In March 2018, two Russian intelligence officers used a deadly nerve agent to target an ex-spy and his daughter in Salisbury, United Kingdom. The incident drew international attention and led British Prime Minister Theresa May, along with more than 25 other countries (including NATO), to expel more than to 150 Russian diplomats. The victims, who thankfully recovered, were nearly two more of the countless casualties of Russia’s secret, escalatory war of subterfuge and poisoning.
I was fortunate to speak with author Daniel Silva about Russia’s covert operations and his new spy novel, “The New Girl,” on this week’s episode of my “Newt’s World” podcast.
Silva is a number one New York Times bestselling author and has been called one of the greatest American spy novelists ever. Often placing his novels in the fictionalized context of current affairs, Silva told me about his latest story.
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“The New Girl” follows Israeli intelligence chief Gabriel Allon as he investigates the kidnapping of the daughter of the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Khalid bin Mohammed. Bin Mohammed, or KBM, was once praised for his social and religious reforms, but a shadow has been cast over his princedom because of his government’s role in the murder of a journalist who was critical of the regime.
This closely mirrors the recent infamous killing of Jamal Khashoggi, a dissident journalist who was brutally murdered and dismembered in Turkey by operatives of the Saudi Arabian government.
Before the incident, Saudi Arabia’s crown prince Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, was viewed by Western observers as a liberal reformer and modernizer – a cause for optimism in the Saudi kingdom. Now, he is seen as just another strongman.
”The New Girl” is Silva’s 22nd book and further cements Gabriel Allon as one of fiction’s greatest spies.
The novel is a thrilling, page-turning tale, as well as an intelligent study of political alliances and great-power rivalries in the 21st century.
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Silva expertly weaves dark humor and an unforgettable cast of characters into a breathtaking plot full of exciting twists that will both educate and entertain readers.
I’m pleased to welcome Daniel Silva as my guest and hope you will listen to our conversation. I think you will find it to be an insightful look into the struggles that exist in the shadows cast by great powers that often never see the light of day. Silva’s novel, “The New Girl,” is available in stores now.
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