In my review of Daniel Silva‘s last book, Moscow Rules, I was happy about the return of the Russians. Russians, as in Russian spies, which are the staple of traditional espionage fare. Well, the Russians return once again in The Defector and this time around, I’m not so sure. The Defector picks up where Moscow Rules left off as ex-KGB and current gun runner Ivan Kharkov goes after the man who took his money and broke up his family in the previous novel. That man, of course, is Gabriel Allon, the Mossad agent/artist making his ninth appearance for Silva. In true espionage fashion, Kharkov seeks revenge against Allon and we visit many countries, including Mother Russia. Like the characters, I’m not sure about returning there so quickly. Why the apprehension? Well, it’s not that the book is bad, because it is not. In fact, it’s a pretty good book that reads very quickly. It just feels forced to me. As is usually the case, the book starts with Allon working on an art restoration project. Those scenes seem rushed. Silva does meticulous research for his books and there is always a lesson in history, politics and even religion. However, in this case, the main Russian history lesson seems to be crammed into one of the final scenes. And speaking of final scenes, the epilogue covers a summer of covert action in a matter of pages. In the acknowledgments, Silva thanks his children for helping him make his deadline. I’m guessing that wasn’t any easy task. Meanwhile, it looks like Allon’s clandestine duties may be coming to an end, although I don’t really believe it nor does he. (It’s pointed out to Allon that his first assignment in 1972 had 11 targets as did all two pages of his final assignment in the epilogue.) One wonders if Silva will also take a break when it comes to the Allon series. Let’s face it, both have done great work and have earned a well-deserved vacation. I think it would be best served if they both took some time off from each other and then returned nice and refreshed.