The New Girl shows very clearly what any progressive ruler in the Saudi kingdom is up against. The author offers a crash course in Wahhabi, the strictly orthodox Sunni Muslim sect that has a covenant with the House of Saud ... Readers who don’t care about politics will certainly still enjoy The New Girl, which spins an excellent yarn. A shocking explosion, a chance encounter, a radioactive toxin, a lie to a mole and a super twist at the end are all elements that make the book’s 468 pages fly by.
... another riveting, twisting tale of espionage that further cements [Silva's] legacy as one of the greatest novelists the genre has ever known ... Frankly, it’s hard to fathom that Silva could ever top himself after last year’s The Other Woman, but he’s done just that. The New Girl is one of his fastest-moving thrillers yet (after a slower opening that sets the foundation for what’s to come) and features a number of perfectly-timed twists that constantly raise the stakes, forcing Allon, who is under steady duress, to adjust on the fly with only several days to connect all the dots and take action before it’s too late. Without giving away the meat of the plot, it’s one of Silva’s most timely, ripped-from-the-headlines stories to date—and, as his work is prone to do, at times it even reads a bit too close for comfort ... He’s one of the all-time greats for a reason, and he’s showing no signs of slowing down anytime soon . . . Reading Daniel Silva’s expertly crafted novels is to witness a master at work, and The New Girl is as close to perfect as you could ever hope for a thriller to be.
As expected in a story of international intrigue, fast cars, boats, planes, and high body counts abound. Not expected are the surprise emotional trap doors in scenes which drop the reader into the same pits of perfect despair suffered by the characters. Also unexpected to the point of improbable is the general storyline ... [Sarah Bancroft's] main role in this novel is to be cloying and annoying...Her persona is so distracting it seriously diminishes the impact of an otherwise decent spy story ... just a decent spy story and no more. It is a dumping ground of random thoughts. The title itself seems randomly selected. By page 11, Khalid’s daughter is no longer the mysterious new girl at the private Swiss academy. By then, she is well on her way to becoming a prisoner ... Silva also makes it clear that the spy business is tough and best left to the menfolk. Hopefully, in Allon novel number 20, Silva can embrace the same epiphany of enlightenment enjoyed by Khalid by book’s end.
The elaborate and fascinating premise set, Silva goes on to do what he has done so masterfully through 21 previous spy thrillers: combine ever-intensifying suspense with the multiple interactions between a familiar team of deftly portrayed characters—Allon’s colleagues, along with spymasters from the UK and U.S., as well as, in this case, the alternately infuriating and intriguing Khalid and several figures from previous novels, including American Sarah Bancroft, art historian and dabbler in the secret world. Fans of the series will be especially glad to learn that the notorious Soviet mole from The Other Woman (2018), Rebecca Manning, is back, too, again with her sights set on Allon. It all adds up to an irresistible thriller, built on the realpolitik of today’s Middle East but deepened by the universality of human tragedy.
... anyone who recognizes KBM as a fictional echo of MBS might find this book to be more old news than fresh entertainment. In his last few novels, Silva has turned his attention to current world affairs, such as the rise of the new Russia and the threats of global terrorism. In novels like The Other Woman (2018) and House of Spies (2017), the author was inventive enough that these works felt compelling and original. And, in The Black Widow (2016), Silva wrote much of the story from the point of view of the French-born Israeli doctor Allon recruited for an undercover mission while also expanding the roles of a few familiar secondary characters. Allon is a wonderful creation. In the first several novels in this series, he posed as an art restorer while working for Israel’s intelligence service. He adopted a variety of personas and gave readers access to people and places few of us will ever see. Now that he’s a public figure who can no longer invent alter egos, his world is smaller and less fascinating. The pacing here is slow, and any sense of urgency is undercut by the matter of what’s at stake. Ultimately, this is a narrative about removing one horrible Saudi ruler in order to reinstate a less horrible Saudi ruler. This might be solid realpolitik, but it’s not terribly compelling fiction ... It may be time for Silva's hero to retire from the field and let his protégés take over.