The Black Widow
By Daniel Silva. (Harper, 527 pages, $27.99.)
“The Black Widow” is an exceptional spy thriller, well written and timely, weaving history seamlessly into a sumptuous page-turner of a novel.
The book, part of Daniel Silva’s bestselling series, finds Gabriel Allon on the cusp of taking over Israel’s intelligence service, but not before being drawn into one more field operation — this one with an audacious central plot point, the recruitment of a female doctor with impeccable cover to infiltrate the Islamic State terror group, fresh off a deadly bombing in the Marais district of France.
(Silva notes in a foreword that the manuscript for this novel was already in the works before the wave of shootings and bombings that killed 160 in Paris and Brussels, also a key location in “The Black Widow.”) Longtime fans will revel in familiar faces (Mikhail Abramaov is back, and with a love interest; Allon is newly a father to twins) and Silva’s understated but deft writing (“such was life in the twice-Promised Land”).
For newcomers, well, what are you waiting for?
COLLEEN KELLY, mobile and social media editor
By Gina Wohlsdorf. (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 240 pages, $25.95.)
A posh five-star resort hotel is about to open for the ultrarich on the California coast. The brochures boast of exclusive soundproof rooms and unrivaled privacy — ensured, we learn, by a security team of elite operatives tucked high above the penthouse floor who keep watch via a system of secret surveillance cameras. Despite such careful measures, we see right away that something is about to go very wrong.
The housekeeping staff and a few managers are making final preparations for the gleaming tower’s grand opening, unaware that their fortress has been penetrated by a murderous intruder. As the security cameras document every move by the unwitting staff, the killer is spotted stalking the halls and setting his traps.
From behind the cameras, a mysterious narrator watches as the killer prepares to pick off the workers one by one. Will the narrator try to warn them?
An interesting writing technique follows the cameras as they record concurrent activities in different parts of the hotel: the narrative splits into columns on the page to create parallel story lines. It’s not overdone and has an addicting appeal.
This is a chilling tale that pays unabashed homage to such horror masters as Stephen King, Daphne du Maurier and Edgar Allan Poe. It’s an intense and unforgettable debut novel by a Bismarck, N.D., native whose media photo reflects the sweet face of the girl next door, but whose blood-dripping prose will have horror fans sopping up every word.
GINNY GREENE, copy editor