David Stokes
Recommend this article

The International Spy Museum in Washington, D.C. displays a list of what are called Moscow Rules – commonly accepted guidelines for the good guys during the Cold War.  Basically, they are based on a through-the-looking-glass approach to reality, where nothing is as it appears to be. 

Some directories note as many as forty of these espionage nuggets, including things like, “float like a butterfly; sting like a bee” (guess who inspired that?), or “Murphy is right,” or “technology will always let you down” (actually, I think that one’s true).  But ten are in the commonly accepted list:

Assume nothing.

Never go against your gut.

Everyone is potentially under opposition control.

Don’t look back; you are never completely alone.

Go with the flow; blend in.

Vary your pattern and stay within your cover.

Lull them into a sense of complacency.

Don’t harass the opposition.

Pick the time and place for action.

Keep your options open.

Author Daniel Silva has brought these deep-background precepts to life in his latest novel that bears the actual name, Moscow Rules.  His eleventh book is a bit of a departure from recent ones because it shifts from using the Middle East as a backdrop in favor of the intriguing world of present-day Russia. 

The spy novel has come back home.

With the feel of a Cold War story, and a pace unmatched by most war-on-terror thrillers, this book is likely Silva’s best to date.  Spy-Mystery-Thriller writers all have their favorite characters.  John Le Carré gave us George Smiley, William F. Buckley introduced us to Blackford Oakes, Jack Higgins writes about Sean Dillon, and, of course, there’s Vince Flynn’s creation, Mitch Rapp.  But in art restorer-Israeli top spy Gabriel Allon, Silva has a hero for all seasons, shapes, and sizes - a man who is intensely human, fiercely intelligent, and quite good at what he does. 

In Moscow Rules, Allon finds himself moving with ease between worlds of religion, politics, and history.  From the Vatican, to a CIA house in Georgetown, to the dark and dank inner-sanctum of old Soviet-style brutality in the Lubyanka, he’s a hero for everyone who still believes that there are good guys and bad guys. 

Recommend this article

David Stokes

David R. Stokes is a best-selling author, pastor, columnist, and broadcaster. His latest book is a novel: CAPITOL LIMITED: A Story about John Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Based on a true story, it's about a unique moment in 1947, when Kennedy and Nixon shared