The Marching Season

Daniel Silva, Author
Daniel Silva, Author Random House (NY) $25.95 (418p) ISBN 978-0-375-50089-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-553-52600-4
Compact Disc - 978-0-553-45638-7
Hardcover - 768 pages - 978-0-375-70638-7
Paperback - 978-0-7838-8510-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 384 pages - 978-0-449-00211-7
Open Ebook - 512 pages - 978-1-4406-0713-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 499 pages - 978-0-451-20932-0
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 512 pages - 978-1-4406-0717-2
Hardcover - 344 pages - 978-0-297-64340-1
Hardcover - 512 pages - 978-0-7528-2649-3
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The title of Silva's new thriller (after Mark of the Assassin and The Unlikely Spy) refers to the time of the year in Northern Ireland when the Protestants assert their right to march in celebration of a 300-year-old victory over the Catholics--and the Catholics (naturally) object. The Irish background to this elaborately plotted but not very convincing yarn is by far the best part about it. Silva has clearly done his homework on Belfast and the tone of the contemporary Troubles, and the opening passages have an authentic ring. All too soon, however, the story becomes bogged down in one of those worldwide conspiracies to keep the world safe for arms merchants by blocking any efforts toward peace, of a kind only John le Carre, with his much more acute eye and ear for offbeat villains, can hope to bring off. There is a supposedly charismatic yet glum world-class assassin who bumps off the surgeon who has changed his face; an embittered ex-CIA man, Michael Osbourne, whose job is to save the free world; Osbourne's wife, who wishes he would leave the Agency alone, and various cynical and suave operatives on both sides. The whole tale is told in simple, declarative sentences that convey information (though not much else) with economy and authority, but ultimately become tedious. There are anomalies, too: a climactic shootout in Washington might work as a movie scene but sags on the page; and while such real-life figures as British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and (in a truly ludicrous scene) even Queen Elizabeth are given walk-ons, the American public figures are all mythical. Despite Silva's skill at moving a story along, this is basically a mechanical and lackluster performance. (Mar.)
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