|English Assasin, The
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An Israeli spy by trade and art restorer by preference, Gabriel Allon arrives in Zurich to restore the work of an Old Master for a millionaire banker-and finds himself standing in blood and framed for the man's murder.
The English Assassin brings back Gabriel Allon, the appealingly melancholy art restorer with a double life as an Israeli secret agent, first introduced in 2000's The Kill Artist. Gabriel is sent to Zurich under a pseudonym to restore a Raphael belonging to a prominent Swiss banker and art collector, Augustus Rolfe, but upon arriving he finds Rolfe lying in a pool of blood. When Gabriel tries to leave Zurich, the Swiss police capture him immediately--and moreover, they know his real identity. He's released through some diplomatic string-pulling, but he soon discovers that Rolfe had requested a meeting with Israeli intelligence, for reasons unknown, just before his death.
Rolfe's daughter, Anna, is a world-class violinist attempting to rebuild her career after an accident that nearly destroyed one of her hands. But her physical scars are nothing compared to those on her psyche, left by her mother's suicide when Anna was a teenager. Temperamental and mistrustful, she nevertheless believes Gabriel's story, and reveals that Rolfe owned a secret collection of priceless French Impressionist paintings, apparently stolen by his murderers.
As Gabriel begins to put together the pieces of the puzzle, he faces two adversaries: a powerful group of men who would do anything to bury the past forever, and a hired killer who's planning a spectacular murder. Like The Kill Artist, The English Assassin balances fascinating characters, authentic-sounding historical detail, and plenty of glamorous international intrigue on the edge of a knife-keen plot. --Barrie Trinkle
- Comparisons with Harlan Coben would be more fair.
Daniel Silva's "The English Assassin" is a pleasant enough read, but comparing him to David Cornwall (Le Carre) or Graham Greene is ......overwrought. Greene had theological subtly and Divine and Eternal punishment behind his thrillers, while Le Carre confronts the deepest questions of the cold war, its animating ideologies, and the underlying betrayal to those loyal to those ideologies by fallible human actors. Silva's weltanschauung is a neo-Con fantasy world of an invincible and pre-justified Israeli Secret Service, Zionist finality, and the shadow of Eli Weisel's ever present memory so painfully spelled out in "Night." But if there is a theological question anywhere in Silva's works deeper than a knish, I haven't found it.
Which is not to say that this is not a ripping good yarn, with powerful imagery, exotic locations, brilliant and believable character construction, and a whole lot of fun. But the Swiss "bad guys" who were collaborators with Nat-zees got a little FuManChu for my taste. The Calvinist Gnomes of Zurich are far too passive aggressive in their patient stone fortresses to be much of a foil for an action team. And this is an action thriller. Aged bankers hiding in their basements in the mountains sounds more like storming an old folks home than an international shoot-'em-up.
Other reviews have outlined the plot, but basically art restorer/assassin Gabriel Allon is lured into a plot of redemption and revenge by a reclusive Swiss banker, who turns up murdered and his prizes looted. His dazzling daughter, a brilliant musician, is the key to uncovering the puzzle that was her father's riddle house. Meanwhile, a dark conspiracy is racing to thwart Allon's detective work and will stop at nothing to keep their secrets safe, including murder! To keep their hands clean they hire a mysterious English Assassin straight out of "Day of the Jackal."
Comparisons with Harlan Coben would be more fair....more info
- Swiss Travelog
A diabolical billionaire hires an English Assasin to help hide some WWII secrets about Swiss-Nazi collaboration. Gabriel Allon returns as a talented art restorer and crack agent from Isreal. A European cat and mouse game ensues with much of the action in the peaks and valleys of the Swiss Alps.
Daniel Silva's fourth novel is a vivid travelog of the Swiss culture and countryside. If only a fraction of the plot's focus on Swiss complicity to Nazi attrocities is true, the 'neutral' Swiss facade will collapse. Silva tries to give his two deadly characters some guilt and angst. They suffer through several killings, but the reader eventually finds it hard to root for either of these manics. Perhaps we prefer cool and cold killers. Or maybe the author is too determined to preach to us on the 'real' Swiss crimes, when all we wanted was a thrilling yarn. It's a decent beach book, but - next time - we expect a little more from the Mr. Silva....more info
- Another Worthy Silva Thriller
Silva's Gabriel Allon books are a surefire success, but not as good as some of his other books. Not because the Allon books are bad; but because the other books are usually a little better. In any case, this worthy thriller takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of Europe with Allon seeking to right the massive wrong of art thefts from Jews during WWII. In so doing, Silva takes a big swipe at the role of Switzerland in fencing the stolen by the Nazis. It's an interesting foray into a world that few people knew about till recent years -- at least the extent to which the Swiss may or may not have been culpable. So, in addition to getting a history lesson, the reader gets a competent thriller involving a fairly well defined hero in Gabriel Allon. In my estimation, any book by Silva is a winner, and this neatly meets that standard....more info
- Daniel Silve doesn't miss.
Protagonist, Gabriel Allon is an art restorer/Israeli secret agent in this thought provoking, intricately plotted, fast paced thriller.
At the heart of the novel is the Swiss collaboration with the Nazis in the theft of priceless art during WWII.
It is a tale filled with multi-dimensional complex characters---you feel you know everyone of the large cast of supporting characters.
It is a story of secrets and betrayals that lures you in and hooks you in the prologue. The bona fide sounding historical detail and alluring foreign intrigue add to this crisply written and polished suspenseful story.
Daniel Silva is a master of this genre. All five of his books have hooked me early and never let me go. An exquisite author.
I read it in two sessions.
If you have yet to discover Daniel Silva, now is not too soon....more info
- Good Read
I always look forward to a Silva book and he has not disappointed with this latest offering. He "paints" a good story colored with themes from the art world -- in this case the stolen works of art from WWII and the music world with his 2 main protanist characters. His heros are real -- noble but flawed and that makes them more interesting....more info
- Plausible & original plot
One of the most important things to me in a book is that the plot and the behavior of the characters should be plausible. Silva accomplishes this in the English Assassin. Silva does not take lazy shortcuts as some mystery-thriller authors do when they rely on implausible coincidences or withhold information from the reader.
Silva does a pretty good job of making sure that his characters are multi-dimensional: the good guys are not 100% good and the bad guys are not 100% bad. There is not as much character development as I might have liked, but it's not terrible either.
The book is more a thriller than a mystery. The puzzles are not terribly puzzling, but they are intriguing.
My only real complaint was that the dramatic pacing suffered from the way Silva's chapters were so short. Every few pages the chapter ends, often at a cliffhanger moment, and the scene shifts. There are not many scenes that are long enough to allow the suspense to build effectively. I was also less than thrilled with the way Silva shows you what the villains are doing, so there is not much mystery about what is going on.
I won't spoil the ending or anything, but for those of you who hate books that try to wow you with a far fetched, implausible, over-ambitious ending, you can rest assured that this book won't let you down with an ending of that kind. Overall it was a good read.
For an exciting spy thriller, try The Bourne Identity by Ludlum (less realistic, but exciting), Falling Rain by Eisler (pretty realistic), or Le Carre's Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (very realistic, but complicated plot)....more info
- Uncovered Nazi looted art
Daniel Silva in his sterling novel, The English Assassin reintroduces us to premier art restorer and super Israeli secret agent, Gabriel Allon. Allon under orders from his legendary boss, head of Israeli intelligence, Ari Shamron is commissioned to restore a priceless Raphael painting owned by Swiss banker Augustus Rolfe. Rolfe, who actually has revealing information pertaining to stolen European art treasures he wishes to share with the Israelis, is found murdered in his stately villa in Zurich by Allon.
Allon is implicated in the murder by head of Swiss federal security, Gerhardt Peterson. Allon, who is eventually released to avoid political scandal, follows clues to lead him to Rolfe's killers. He is thwarted by the English Assassin who liquidates people who Allon is investigating. The English Assassin has been keeping Allon under surveillance and monitoring his every move.
Allon recruits world famous concert violinist and daughter of the murdered banker, Anna Rolfe to help him unravel this mystery. We learn that The Assassin has been hired by the Council of Rutli, a cartel of powerful and wealthy Swiss financiers fronted by Gerhardt Peterson. The Council, headed by the blind and ruthless octagenarian, Otto Gessler, has been implicated in aiding the Nazi war effort. They've purchased looted European art treasures at deflated prices for hard currency to be used by the Nazis for munitions. They have passed laws which made these actions legal in Switzerland. Rolfe was silenced to stop him from blowing the whistle on this conspiracy.
Silva does a fantastic job with this suspenseful plot which takes us through many famous European locales. He unfortunately ends this excellent novel with the possibility that Gabriel Allon could be retired as Silva's main character....more info
- A Better Than Average Action Novel
My first Silva book, The English Assasin was recommended by a friend. The concept of an Israeli hit man doubling as an art restorer was intriguing, and the book lived up to my expectations. The story moved quickly, there was plenty of action and at least a little to be learned about Swiss banking and its role in WWII. It was also believable and generally well written. Based on this experience, I am sure I will tackle another Silva offering in the not far distant future....more info
- Exciting Thriller...Great Summer Reading
This is the first Daniel Silva book I have read and I wasn't disappointed! The stories first chapter grabs you immediatley and it's tough to put this book down. Gabriel Allon is the art restorer/ Isarali secret agent who is called upon to restore a Raphael in the Rolfe home in Sweden. When he arrives, he finds the owner of the home dead and he is later arrested for the murder.
I haven't read the other books about Gabriel Allon but I didn't feel as if I missed out on much. I was able to get into the story with no problem. I can't compare this book to other ones though but I plan on reading more.
As Gabriel gets deeper into this situation people from his past come back to ask him to complete this "job." He meets the daughter of the dead man, Anna Rolfe, who is a famous violinist and diva. He is pitted against the English assasin who is a former army man turned contract killer for an Italian family in Corsica.
Silva continues with the action but also develops his quirky characters. You really are interested in these people and their relationships. I really enjoyed this book and it's unique premise about stolen art that dated back to the Nazi regime. For a good old fashion international spy thriller, this book is it!...more info
I really enjoyed this book. Very gripping. The best thriller since Craig Furrnas' THE SHAPE. I couldn't put it down....more info
- The Ending was a Big Disappointment
Good beginning and was somewhat interesting until the last 70 pages, then it went downhill and stayed there all the way thru the last page. If you like an ending where you can close the book and smile, then this is not the book for you. This was one of his earlier books written in 2002 and I guess he had not yet developed his ability to put it all together as he did in The Messenger written in 2006. It seemed like he was pressed for time and just decided to end it. Certainly not one of his best thrillers, just a mundane spy story....more info
- Excellent Book!
This book was the perfect followup to "The Kill Artist".In this new book Gabriel Allon is sent to a home to restore an old masterpiece. He discovers that the owner of the home and the painting has been murdered.He is detained by the Swiss police and
released by diplomatic stingpulling.He hooks up with the murder victim's daughter(a famed concert violinist) and uncovers a giant
conspiracy.A group called the Council has taken masterpiece painting that were taken from Jewish citizens as payment for aiding the Nazis during World War II.As Allon's invetsigation gets closer to the Council and the truth,the Council is forced to hire an assassin to quieten potential witnesses.Allon discovers that the assassin is someone that he knew in the past.
This book has suspense,intrigue,action,everything that a good book needs.This is one of Silva's better books.Buy it and read it.You will not be dissapointed....more info
- Another superb winner from Daniel Silva
This is another superb thriller from Daniel Silva with his great character Gabriel Allon. Stolen Nazi art,insternational co nspiracy at highest levels, treasures hidden and rediscovered and a vicious villain. Read it and enjoy, it's that good.
- Allon's Alter Ego
This is one of my favorite Silva thrillers, primarily because of the subterfuge, chase, revelation, and respect between Silva's hero Gabriel Allon and the antagonist of this book, the English Assassin, who seems to serve as Allon's alter ego. The Englishman is a former British-government trained special ops soldier, now turned mercenary. The back-and-forth in scene and plot when Allon's and the Englishman's paths crisscross as they pursue their mutual targets reminded me of the chivalric rivalries between knights of disparate standards. You still get the same dependable, richly drawn Allon, but you have an added bonus of the Englishman's character, who draws on the reader's empathy as well.
As always, we are witness to fabulous settings and Allon's deep cultural angst leading to integrity and heroism. Don't pass this one by.
A Genie in the House of Saud: Zubis Rises...more info
- Where's the spark?
Funny how a book can be so well-constructed yet lack the emotional spark to truly involve a reader. Case in point: The English Assassin. The subject matter is compelling, the spycraft believable, the action and pacing fine, the descriptions of Switzerland and the Swiss sharply drawn. But two key relationships--between Gabriel and Anna and Gabriel and the title character--are glancing at best. The way Anna lets Gabriel into her life after being so aloof for so long is unbelievable, and there's precious little interaction to indicate the depth of their eventual relationship. I kept waiting for the pheromones to fly, but that just didn't happen.
Worse, I thought, was the lack of confrontation between Gabriel and the English assassin. Frankly, I felt cheated here. While not looking for a big shootout, I at least expected the two to match wits more directly, some moves and countermoves. My other impression: Gabriel was fortunate that he never had to face the other man, because based on shows of respective skills he was the inferior player....more info
- Silva casts a few stones....
Indeed, as the liner jacket notes and other reviewers have readily stated, Daniel
Silva and "The English Assassin" are "in the style of Robert Ludlum." Whether that's
hailed as a compliment or not, of course, remains to be seen.
First, indeed, "The English
Assassin" is "shades of Ludlum." It is fast paced (faster than much of Ludlum's last
novels), involves an international James Bond-like special governmental agent (this time,
an Israeli agent ... art restorer), and is all awash in a grander than life consipiracy
(did anyone mention Robert Ludlum!!!) in which, like the definition of a grand epic hero,
the whole world depends upon his--and his alone--actions to rid us of such Evil. (In this
case, it's the Swiss cover-up, involvement, and dishonesty, with their complicity with the
Nazis during World War II.).
Ludlum it is, and Ludlum it is not. For one, the plot line is
greatly reminiscent of Ludlum; for two, however, Silva is Ludlum without the long (and
now boring) sermons on left-wing conspiracies to take over the civilized world. Silva
also is not the pedantic Ludlum (one doesn't need a dictionary with Silva).
That said (and cleared), "The English Assassin" (if one gets past all this Ludlum
stuff) is actually worth the read. It is exciting and Silva gives us a decent "arts and
humanities" lesson as the central character, one late-40ish Gideon Allon who is enlisted by the
Israeli government to mount a very clandestine inquiry into uncovering much about the
Swiss involvement with their nasty Nazy neighbors. Untold numbers of valuable paintings,
from Old Masters to "moderns" were "confiscated" and then deposited in Swiss banks in
exchange, sometimes, for currency to help the Nazis; in other situations, the paintings--not
to mention other treasures and money--were simply deposited in numbered accounts in
which they reside today, unclaimed, beneath the streets of Zurich!
Allon is sent to "restore" an Old Master (a Raphael)and, voila, he finds the owner,
wealthy and powerful banker Augustus Rolfe, brutally murdered. Before Allon can get out of Switzerland, he
is arrested as a suspect and from there on, the plot really thickens and the pace quickens. The game is
afoot! Allon becomes involved (yes) with Rolfe's daughter, who just happens to be
incredibly beautiful young woman and, of course, the world's greatest living violinist (and, yes, she and Gideon "fiddle around" a bit!).
Besides giving us a very interesting lesson in the fine arts (although I am not sure
about "rolling up" the canvases of Old Masters to smuggle them out!), Silva gives us a very
interesting geography lesson, as Allon zooms back and forth across Europe--from London
to Portugal to Austria and back. This, too, is worthwhile, especially if one has been so
fortunate to have been in those places!
"Penzler's Pick" notes that "Daniel Silva, author of several previous thrillers,
delivers a classic novel of multiple secrets and myriad betrayals." I am not sure how many
"classic novels" this Penzler has read, but "classic" is NOT a descriptive to be assigned to
"The English Assassin." Discerning readers of this genre will be a bit disappointed, if they
expect such. ......more info
- Not Silva's Best Work
Silva is easily one of my favorite authors, however English Assassin does not live up to his past standards. I hope this is not an indication of a future trend in his work....more info