It is the first uncertain years of the Northern Ireland peace process. In Belfast, Dublin and London three simultaneous terrorist attacks shatter the hope that the bloodshed finally may be over. Although suspicion immediately falls on Catholic Republicans, it quickly becomes clear that the perpetrators are Protestant Loyalists, a new terror group ...
It is the first uncertain years of the Northern Ireland peace process. In Belfast, Dublin and London three simultaneous terrorist attacks shatter the hope that the bloodshed finally may be over. Although suspicion immediately falls on Catholic Republicans, it quickly becomes clear that the perpetrators are Protestant Loyalists, a new terror group called the Ulster Freedom Brigade. They have but one goal - to destroy the peace process. Michael Osbourne, the hero of Silva's second novel, The Mark of the Assassin, has quit the CIA, bitter and disillusioned. He is living quietly in New York, struggling with the responsibilities of fatherhood and the tedium of early retirement. But when the President chooses his father-in-law, former US Senator, to be the next American ambassador to Britain, Osbourne is drawn into battle with some of the most ruthless and violent men on earth. Osbourne is rehired by the CIA with the mission of preventing the Ulster Freedom Brigade from dest roying the peace proccess. What Osbourne does not know is that the terrorists have hired the world's deadliest assassin; none other than Jean-Paul Delaroche, the title character in The Mark of the Assassin, to murder the ambassador. The Marching Season takes place in the backstreets of West Belfast, the rolling hills of Armagh and, as the locale for the assassination a country estate in Norfolk.
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I am afraid I found "The Marching Season" rather sloppy,
meaning that the scenario was not always convincing
and in some aspects it contradicted the previous book
("The Mark of the Assassin"), for a number of reasons
(in no particular order):
1) Obsourne appears to have forgotten that it knows the
identity of the killer, referring to him only as October, and
not mentioning his real name at all, even though he has
read his file and knows who he is (in fact, he expoilted this
knowledge at the end of the previous book to unerve the
2) In the previous book, the Director orders the elimination
of October, to cover up all tracks to his organization. October
manages to escape, pressumably eliminating in the process
his would be killers. However, in "The Marching Season" there
is no information on how October managed to escape. Even
more strange, there is no explanation as to why October
chooses to work again for the guy who set him up. In fact,
the Director is having face to face meetings with October,
without being afraid that the latter will kill him, even though
October has killed for less.
3) In "The Mark of the Assassin", October is about to quit,
having enough money. Even though the loss of his girlfriend
may have made him having second thoughts, it does not
appear that he was so desperate to get back to business,
being forced also to ruin a handsome face. Furthermore,
he goes and kills the plastic surgeant without even trying
to make it look like an accident (the guy was drank and alone
so it would have been relatively easy to do so), thus alerting
4) October continues to use the boat house in Amsterdam
that belonged to his killed girlfirend. I can't believe that he
does so so easily, without being afraid that the authorities
will be able to track it down and put it under observation.
5) The way the organization meets and after each meeting
destroys a villa, is the best way to attract attention. First
of all, it is rather difficult for people who are having senior
positions in intelligence agencies or private/public organizations
to disappear of the face of the earth for 2-3 days, at least
3-4 times a yeat to attend such meetings. Second, the blowing
up of the meeting place is bound to eventually attract attention.
Even if you can get away with it in a remote part of some desert
or jungle, you cannot expect not to raise interest when you
do it in Mykonos, probably the most famous Greek island.
Especially, with the members of the organization having to stay
in different hotels in Chora (the villa was too small to house them),
thus showing their faces around the island,
and then trying to find a not that small number of Range Rovers
with dark windows (how many of those can you find in a Greek
island?), march as a convoy to the villa, have the meeting and
then just after departure blow the villa up. I mean, the Greek
police and intelligence services are not top class but their
people are not mentally retarted either.
6) I cannot understand why the people watching the house
with the guns in N. Ireland were still there when the terrorists
went to kill them. By that time, MI5 and CIA knew what the terrorists
would do and therefore they should have removed their
people from around the house, in case they attract attention.
7) Everybody knows that you don't use the famous Downing
Street no. 10 door to get into the PM's house. This is only
used for official visits. There are many other entries to the
house, and much less conspicuous ways to get in. I cannot
imagine a MI5 or CIA person using that door at 3am! A
reporter hanging around would make a story the next day.
8) I find difficult to believe that the Queen knows by heart
the code names of secret operatives. Furthermore, handing
Osbourne his knighthood in a face to face meeting with only
the two around, as if it is a London souvenir, also is not plausible.
I am sure her Majestry in her long career has awarded knighthoods
to a number of secret agents and there must be some formal
procedure about it.
9) Finally, overall I found the story rather boring, just a single
thread of action going on, with mostly predictable turns.
Certainly, not the best moments of Daniel Silva. I wonder if
it is a mere coincidence that Osbourne disapperead after
this second adventure of his to be replace by Gabriel Allon.
Having said the above, I have thoroughly enjoyed the rest of
Daniel Silva's books and I remain a great fun of them.
Jan 2, 2008
Powerful and Thrilling
Any book by Daniel Silva is worth reading, probably several times. As a great fan, I have re-read all of his books several times, and have had the privilege of hearing the author speak in person. This is an author who combines an in depth knowlege of the history, politics, culture and espionage-history of the Middle East and the West. His books are totally engrossing - you won't be able to put the book down until you come to the supenseful conclusion, however, you also will be educated along the way, in a subtle manner that you will hardly notice. This book, however, does not deal with the Middle East, but rather the "troubles" in Ireland-England relations and the terrorist war that has been occurring since the seventeenth century. Silva has an uncanny knack for sketching charachters that embody a point of view or a philosophy, even if such views are repellant. Such is the charachter of Delarouch - a terrorist with no seeming history, whose life is a brilliant yet horrible accomplishment of violence in it's terrible banality. He has no charachter, except that which is a utlity for terror. Even his appearance is in the service of his crimes, for he is forced to surgically alter his facial features and assume new identities to escape detection. Whatever the mystery of his motivation, he seems to be a man without recognisable empathy. The many strong charachers in this book will stay with you after the story is over.
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