Daniel Silva realizes that there is an inherent pitfall in writing espionage thrillers about the Mossad who are the villains going to be? Obviously, we can anticipate having to deal with terrorist organizations in the Middle East, and perhaps the governments that back them. Perhaps there are some ex-Nazis or neo-Nazi groups that need to be observed and battled. BUT what about after that?
The Defector brings art restorer and Mossad agent Gabriel Allon up against a Russian businessman whose businesses include supplying arms to those who have the money to spend on them, including the enemies of Israel. They've already done battle once, which resulted in the defection of Ivan Kharkov's family to the west. Kharkov does not forget an insult, and wants them back his children alive, the rest, dead.
I made a mistake in picking up this particular book I normally read series in order, but in this case, I accidentally skipped over the earlier Moscow Rules. This was a BIG mistake on my part, as The Defector is a flat-out sequel to the earlier book. The author was kind to me and those like me; he provided enough explanation along the way so that I was able to follow along without having read the earlier book. However, now, I have to wonder just how much I'll ENJOY that book, already knowing so much of what is in it!
All in all, this is a typical Daniel Silva / Gabriel Allon book. Our proverbial white-hatted heroes have shades of gray, while our black hatted villains do not have the same yin-yang counterbalance of soul. Gabriel and the Mossad mission team are darned good, quick to plot and quick to implement, but even they cannot allow for every contingency this is where their real opportunity to shine, or to go down in flames, truly comes in. BUT if you've read Silva in the past, you know what to expect and you're either eager to grab the next book in the series or you gave up long ago.
I fall into the former camp. Bring on the next book in the series. (And, at some point, let me catch up on Moscow Rules, as well!)
FOLLOW-UP: Having just finished "Moscow Rules", I see I would have enjoyed "The Defector" much more if I'd had the background that the former provided. "The Defector" is an out-and-out sequel to "Moscow Rules".