Madeline Hart is a rising star in British government: beautiful, intelligent, driven to succeed by an impoverished childhood. But she also has a dark secret: she is the lover of Prime Minister Jonathan Lancaster. When she disappears on the island of Corsica, it’s clear her kidnappers know about the affair and intend to make the PM pay dearly for his sins. Fearful of a scandal that will destroy his career, Lancaster decides to handle the matter privately, and not involve the police.
Enter Gabriel Allon—assassin, art restorer, and spy—who must find Madeline within seven days before she is executed. With the clock ticking, Allon is thrust into a deadly game of shadows in which nothing is what it seems—and where the only thing more dangerous than his enemies is the truth. . . .
About the Author
Date of Birth:1960
Place of Birth:Michigan
Read an Excerpt
The English Girl
By Daniel Silva
HarperCollins PublishersCopyright © 2013 Daniel Silva
All rights reserved.
They came for her in late August, on the island of Cor-
sica. The precise time would never be determined—some
point between sunset and noon the following day was the
best any of her housemates could do. Sunset was when they saw her
for the last time, streaking down the drive of the villa on a red motor
scooter, a gauzy cotton skirt fluttering about her suntanned thighs.
Noon was when they realized her bed was empty except for a trashy
half-read paperback novel that smelled of coconut oil and faintly
of rum. Another twenty-four hours would elapse before they got
around to calling the gendarmes. It had been that kind of summer,
and Madeline was that kind of girl.
They had arrived on Corsica a fortnight earlier, four pretty girls
and two earnest boys, all faithful servants of the British government
or the political party that was running it these days. They had a single
D A N I E L S I LVA
car, a communal Renault hatchback large enough to accommodate
five uncomfortably, and the red motor scooter which was exclusively
Madeline's and which she rode with a recklessness bordering on sui-
cidal. Their ocher-colored villa stood at the western fringe of the
village on a cliff overlooking the sea. It was tidy and compact, the
sort of place estate agents always described as “charming.” But it had
a swimming pool and a walled garden filled with rosemary bushes
and pepper trees; and within hours of alighting there they had set-
tled into the blissful state of sunburned semi-nudity to which British
tourists aspire, no matter where their travels take them.
Though Madeline was the youngest of the group, she was their
unofficial leader, a burden she accepted without protest. It was Mad-
eline who had managed the rental of the villa, and Madeline who
arranged the long lunches, the late dinners, and the day trips into the
wild Corsican interior, always leading the way along the treacherous
roads on her motor scooter. Not once did she bother to consult a map.
Her encyclopedic knowledge of the island's geography, history, cul-
ture, and cuisine had been acquired during a period of intense study
and preparation conducted in the weeks leading up to the journey.
Madeline, it seemed, had left nothing to chance. But then she rarely
She had come to the Party's Millbank headquarters two years ear-
lier, after graduating from the University of Edinburgh with degrees
in economics and social policy. Despite her second-tier education—
most of her colleagues were products of elite public schools and
Oxbridge—she rose quickly through a series of clerical posts be-
fore being promoted to director of community outreach. Her job,
as she often described it, was to forage for votes among classes of
Britons who had no business supporting the Party, its platform, or
its candidates. The post, all agreed, was but a way station along a
journey to better things. Madeline's future was bright—“solar flare
T H E E N G L I S H G I R L
bright,” in the words of Pauline, who had watched her younger col-
league's ascent with no small amount of envy. According to the ru-
mor mill, Madeline had been taken under the wing of someone high
in the Party. Someone close to the prime minister. Perhaps even the
prime minister himself. With her television good looks, keen intel-
lect, and boundless energy, Madeline was being groomed for a safe
seat in Parliament and a ministry of her own. It was only a matter of
time. Or so they said.
Which made it all the more odd that, at twenty-seven years of age,
Madeline Hart remained romantically unattached. When asked to
explain the barren state of her love life, she would declare she was too
busy for a man. Fiona, a slightly wicked dark-haired beauty from the
Cabinet Office, found the explanation dubious. More to the point,
she believed Madeline was being deceitful—deceitfulness being
one of Fiona's most redeeming qualities, thus her interest in Party
politics. To support her theory, she would point out that Madeline,
while loquacious on almost every subject imaginable, was unusually
guarded when it came to her personal life. Yes, said Fiona, she was
willing to toss out the occasional harmless tidbit about her troubled
childhood—the dreary council house in Essex, the father whose face
she could scarcely recall, the alcoholic brother who'd never worked
a day in his life—but everything else she kept hidden behind a moat
and walls of stone. “Our Madeline could be an ax murderer or a
high-priced tart,” said Fiona, “and none of us would be the wiser.”
But Alison, a Home Office underling with a much-broken heart, had
another theory. “The poor lamb's in love,” she declared one after-
noon as she watched Madeline rising goddess-like from the sea in the
tiny cove beneath the villa. “The trouble is, the man in question isn't
returning the favor.”
“Why ever not?” asked Fiona drowsily from beneath the brim of
an enormous sun visor.
D A N I E L S I LVA
“Maybe he's in no position to.”
“But of course.”
“Had an affair with a married man?”
“Just twice, but I'm considering a third.”
“You're going to burn in hell, Fi.”
“I certainly hope so.”
It was then, on the afternoon of the seventh day, and upon the
thinnest of evidence, that the three girls and two boys staying with
Madeline Hart in the rented villa at the edge of Piana took it upon
themselves to find her a lover. And not just any lover, said Pauline.
He had to be appropriate in age, fine in appearance and breeding,
and stable in his finances and mental health, with no skeletons in his
closet and no other women in his bed. Fiona, the most experienced
when it came to matters of the heart, declared it a mission
Excerpted from The English Girl by Daniel Silva. Copyright © 2013 Daniel Silva. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
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What People are Saying About This
Gabriel Allon is my favorite fictional character.