At the beginning of the year, I decided to participate in the Embarrassment of Riches reading challenge hosted by Author Patricia Burroughs. The goal of the challenge is to make a dent in that stack of books I have been intending to read, but never got around to picking up.
Given the size of the pile I have amassed, I am aiming to get through 24 of them before the end of the year – a silver level accomplishment.
This month I read:
Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva. I went into this book thinking it would be the story of head spymaster Ari Shamron. I’m not sure where I picked up that notion, but as it turned out – not about him at all. I have to say, I liked this one well enough but Silva committed a few plot sins: 1) He introduced a painting in the beginning of the novel, only to let it be forgotten until the wrap up at the end. 2) He killed a character in much the same way he did in a previous novel (The Defector). 3) The conclusion and epilogue were overlong and burdensome to the story as a whole. Despite this, I did find it entertaining, though a little redundant at times.
Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva. Where to begin with this one? I can tell you that after five consecutive Allon novels, this one was a chore to read. In a departure from previous novels, Fallen Angel begins with a murder mystery. Allon is brought in to investigate the death of a Vatican staffer, at the behest of the Pope’s personal secretary. The story meanders briefly into the black market world of antiquities, offers the obligatory attempt on Gabriel and Chiara’s lives (sadly they missed her again), and pretty well flounders around in very familiar territory. It was at this point I walked away from it – for about two weeks. I honestly didn’t think I was going to be able to finish it. Then, I gave it another go. I’m glad I did because at the mid-point, the story took a turn and ended up in Jerusalem. It is there, among the three Abrahamic faiths’ most sacred sites including the Temple Mount/the Dome of the Rock, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the via Delorosa, the Western Wall, and the Mount of Olives, Gabriel unwittingly uncovers a plot that will most assuredly result in a third intifada. When the plot is foiled, the story returns to resolve the murder mystery that was left hanging in the balance. Thankfully, Silva took pity on his readers and wrapped up this useless plot element in a timely fashion.
One interesting note of the story: Silva delved into the mysteries and controversies of “temple denial” – the denial of the existence of King Solomon’s first Jewish temple. It’s a subject that I am not all that familiar, and it piqued my interest. I smell a research project brewing.
Progress toward goal: 7/24
I am officially caught up with Silva’s Gabriel Allon series. Just in time, too. The English Girl will be released in July. I think by then I will have recovered from my Allon fatigue.
So what’s up next for April?
I am still prodding my way through Madeleine Albright’s Prague Winter. It’s a very interesting read, just not a quick one. Maybe I will finish it in April. Maybe not. In addition, I’ve decided to give Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game a shot. Everyone I know has read it, and they all rave about it. I feel left out, so I will give it a go. It’s not my usual fare, but after three solid months of Daniel Silva, I need a change of pace. I’ve also started a compilation edited by George Mann entitled The Encounters of Sherlock Holmes. It is a new book to my list, though, and will not count toward this challenge. I wish it did. I am enjoying the hell out of it.
What’s lying around on your nightstand waiting to be read?