|Daniel Silva is one of the most popular spy novelists writing today, and he is often compared to such masters of the genre as Robert Ludlum and John Le Carre. Born in Michigan, Silva moved with his family to California at an early age. He was in the process of earning a master's degree in international relations when he was offered a temporary job at United Press International (UPI) in 1984. He abandoned school entirely after being offered full-time work. His UPI assignments took him to Cairo and the Persian Gulf, among other places, but despite the excitement of being a globe-trotting journalist, he longed to write a novel. Silva eventually settled in Washington, D.C., and joined CNN as a talk-show producer. With his wife's encouragement, he began working on a manuscript in his spare time. His debut novel, THE UNLIKELY SPY, set against the backdrop of World War II, was published in 1997 to great acclaim. Silva introduced his most popular protagonist, Gabriel Allon, in his fourth novel, THE KILL ARTIST (2000). Allon is a former Israeli secret agent who works as an art restorer, and on occasion, the government calls upon him to undertake a mission. Silva, who was raised a staunch Catholic, converted to Judaism as an adult and feels a deep kinship to the State of Israel. Reportedly, among his most ardent fans are members of Mossad, Israel's intelligence agency. One critic wrote that thanks to the author's contacts in that community, "Silva's [Allon] novels have the virtue of being prescient: Several key developments in the realms of diplomacy and espionage have been presaged, if not outright predicted, in Silva's work."