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The Messenger
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Product Description

Gabriel Allon, art restorer and spy, has been widely acclaimed as one of the most fascinating characters in the genre and now he is about to face the greatest challenge of his life. Allon is recovering from a grueling showdown with a Palestinian master terrorist, when a figure from his past arrives in Jerusalem. Monsignor Luigi Donati is the private secretary to His Holiness Pope Paul VII, and a man as ruthless as he is intelligent. Now, however, he has come to seek Allon's help. A young Swiss guard has been found dead in St. Peter's Basilica, and although Donati has allowed the official inquiry to determine that it is suicide, his instinct tells him that it is murder-and that his master is in grave danger. He has trusted Allon in the past, and he is the only man he trusts now. Allon reluctantly agrees to get involved, but once he begins to investigate he concludes that Donati has every right to be concerned, as, following the trail from the heart of the Vatican to the valleys of Switzerland and beyond, he slowly unravels a conspiracy of lies and deception. An extraordinary enemy walks among them, with but one goal: the most spectacular assassination ever attempted. Filled with remarkable characters and breathtaking double and triple turns of plot, The Messenger solidifies Silva's reputation as his generation's finest writer of international thrillers.

Customer Reviews:

  • Great Series
    I have read all in the series and this is one of the best. I enjoy his characters and the plot is always interesting. If you haven't read any in this series, start with the first one and then continue in order. It is worth it. This is a more intellectual character but there is enough action to keep one happy.
    Enjoy...more info
    ALSO BY MANY FRINDS....more info
  • Silva's Best
    I have enjoyed all six of the Silva books I have read--especially the Gabriel Allon stories. "The Messenger," however, is the best of an excellent lot!! It is fast paced and tightly written. Not a word is wasted. The action and the characters are believable, and the concept (Saudi financing of Islamic terrorism) is most timely. Silva does a very good job of reminding the veteran reader of (or acquainting the first time reader with) Allon and how he became what he is. There is no real need to read the series in order.

    The book moves smoothly between Israel, the Vatican, London, Paris, Washington, the Carribean and Switzerland. The characters are nicely developed, and the reader gets an exposure to the worlds of art, espionage and international terror. The discussions about Impressionism and Van Gogh were particularly enjoyable.

    "The Messenger" is superb. It is Silva's best, and it stands at the top of the heap along with the best of Nelson DeMille and Michael Connelly. Strong praise from where I sit. ...more info
  • A Great Cross
    Mr. Silva is a direct cross between John LeCarre (the early) and Lee Child. He has brought action to his cerebral character as if Jack Reacher gave George Smiley some courses in spy field work.

    What separates Mr. Silva from almost all the authors of the spy/thriller genre is the genuineness of his characters, particularly Gabriel Allon, his main character. Allon has very real human emotions to go with his spycraft expertise and relationships with other characters, all of whom also have depth. There are no cardboard cut-out characters.

    In "The Messenger", Allon is onto the Saudis who bankroll and mastermind anti-western terrorism, espcially anti-Israeli and American. There is an unnerving realism to the scenario that is underscored by the Afterword. After a strike against the Vatican, Allon is on the mission and brings in an amateur to make life even more difficult in the anti-terrorist fight. The plot travels the world, illustrative of the reach of the rich who bankroll the suicide bombers and martyrs.

    From the outset, the tension builds. It is a credit to the author that the tension never wanes. It may change shape and venue, but it is always there - what better complimnet for a thriller? One never gets the feeling that everyone will live happily everafter at the end.

    This novel can stand alone, although I have some passing familiarity with Allon, having read one or two predecessors. Reading this installment inspires me to go back to the ones I missed. This is as good as this genre can get....more info
  • Read them in order...
    ... because you'll have to be a fan to get through this one.

    The author no longer recounts in detail scenes from earlier stories or extensive character descriptions. This was a welcome change, but it did seem a bit ridiculous to find Gabriel Allon striding into the audience of the Pope without a little back story.

    "The Messenger" was a disappointment after the cultural insight and emotional depths reached by Silva's writing in previous installments, "The Prince of Fire" and "A Death in Vienna." It felt like the sort of installment that's just meant to get the characters in position for the next (usually much better) volume.

    That said, it did not make me any less likely to read the next volume. ...more info
  • Smooth as silk
    I thought this book was one of his best and gave it to my wife to read. I had doubts about her reaction, but she keeps asking me if all of Dan Silva's books are this good. The answer is simply yes. He is an excellent author....more info
  • (deliver this message) Silva Hasn't Lost His Edge!!
    Consistency is something that is highly overlooked these days. And if Daniel Silva is anything these days with his work, it is highly consistent. He is consistent in giving us high caliber reads, with great suspense, and he takes it up a level each time! That's what I really enjoy in an author, and he has Gabriel Allon to weave us through each time. "Prince of Fire" was by far his greatest work with Gabriel. But that doesn't mean that "The Messenger" is a bad read. It is nothing short of a GREAT read. If you've thought about doubting Daniel Silva, I've got a message for you. There is an edge that he has that he hasn't lost! That's what makes him great!

    Gabriel is needed once again. He had a great showing his last time, so lets make this one even better! Right? And things immediately get crazy. From the pope, to malicious behavior from al-qaeda, this man of Israeli intelligence is on a mission. And he's going to employ the help of Sarah Bancroft, who's already had a hard lesson from the 9/11 attack. A sneaky billionaire is teamed up with a lethal terrorist, and they can't be caught. But with a team led by Gabriel Allon, they just might watch out.

    This is spy fiction, and this is great stuff! Daniel Silva walks you through this, he sometimes runs you through this, blow by blow. The suspense is high level. Its so good, you almost hate to see it end when that final page is read.

    What can I say? I really like Silva. And I REALLY like his work! That means that I have more books to check out!!...more info
  • An "Edge of Your Seat" Thriller!!
    "The Messenger" is Daniel Silva's sixth novel in the Gabriel Allon series. I just finished this spellbinding, "edge of your seat," thriller and am amazed that the author's characters, plots and writing just seem to get stronger with each novel. A major source of strength emanates from protagonist Gabriel Allon, a brilliant Israeli art restorer, "perhaps one of the three or four most sought after restorers in the world." A complex, melancholy man who leads a double life, he has worked for years as an Israeli intelligence agent and assassin. Allon lost his wife and young son to violence, years ago, as a consequence of his own violent lifestyle. Recruited by spymaster Ari Shamron in 1972, after the Munich Olympic Games massacre, he might have been one of his generation's greatest painters had he not answered his country's call.

    Shamron receives credible evidence that the Vatican is targeted by Saudi Muslim fundamentalists of the Wahabist sect. Although he has been longing to retire, Allon is sent to the Holy See, ASAP, to do whatever it takes. This is not the first time he has been asked to protect the Pope. Fortunately, Gabriel does save the Pope's life. Unfortunately, a packed St. Peter's Square is bombed, and the terrorists succeed in killing hundreds of pilgrims and in destroying the Basilica.

    Both Allon and Shamron agree, based on the latest evidence, that the strike was planned and executed by the terrorist group Brotherhood of Allah. Their leader is Ahmed bin Shafiq, a former employee of the General Intelligence Department, Saudi's intelligence service. The Mossad and the CIA ask Gabriel to assemble a team to penetrate an organization, AAB Holdings, which appears to have taken the fanatic terrorist leader under its wing. The initials for A.B.B. belong to world renowned Saudi businessman Abdul Aziz al-Bakari, "Zizi" to his friends. He is a multi-billionaire and virtually untouchable. "Zizi" is "friendly" with a large number of the world's heads of state. His visibility and power make the team's job all the more difficult. The name of the game is "petrodollars." The Israelis and Americans select a beautiful art curator, Sarah Bancroft, to work with them and infiltrate AAB and Zizi's inner circle. She had applied, some time ago, for a position with the CIA and after an intense training period she is prepared to act as bait.

    "The Saudi family has lots of friends in Washington - the kind of friends only money can buy. Zizi has friends as well. He's endowed academic chairs and filled them with associates and supporters. He's underwritten the creation of Arab studies departments at half a dozen major American universities. He almost single-handedly financed a major renovation of the Kennedy Center. He gives to the pet charitable projects of influential senators and invests in the business ventures of their friends and relatives." Etc. The picture should be clear.

    Author Daniel Silva is a man with a message and the above quotation about Zizi's, influence, as well as the influence of others like him, is part of that message. Silva spent a lot of time in the Middle East where he worked as a television news correspondent. He states in his Author's Note that "The Messenger" is inspired by truth & that Saudi Arabia's financial and doctrinal support for global Islamic terrorism is a documented fact.

    "The Messenger" is a real page turner, filled with action and intrigue. The pace is fast and the writing excellent, as always. While one can read this novel as a stand alone, I would recommend reading at least one previous Gabriel Allon thriller first to get a full understanding of this book. Highly recommended.
    Jana Perskie
    Moscow Rules
    The Kill Artist
    The English Assassin...more info
  • Superb political thriller
    I only recently discovered this marvelous author while browsing on my Kindle, and this was the first novel that I purchased. I have since bought many more.

    Silva's protagonist Gabriel Allon, an Israeli agent who is also a gifted art restorer, operates with both deadliness and finesse. Silva writes in an engrossing style that captivates the reader not only with the action, but also with the background details.

    While Silva does refer to past exploits in this novel, he does so in a way that makes it unnecessary to read his novels in order. He also explores the human relationships between his characters, so that Gabriel and the other characters are not "cardboard figures" but persons whom the reader gets to know.

    I will not repeat the story line details of this novel, which other reviewers have described, but note only that if you enjoy reading political novels about combatting terrorists, Silva is one the best authors to read (I am also a big fan of Vince Flynn and his protagonist Mitch Rapp).

    I found it hard to put this book down. The plot twists were creative, mesmerizing and believable. The details about the art world were fascinating. This is very good reading and entertainment.

    ...more info
  • Follow the money, find the mastermind, finish the murder
    Does geography play a role in world politics? Can money buy "moral blindness?" How are evil people punished by courts if no one captures them? What course must religious leaders take concerning world events? Are "special operations" really necessary? What must a country do to protect itself?

    The answers or lack thereof point to "The Messenger," latest in the thriller series featuring Gabriel Allon, special operative for the Israeli government. Now middle-aged, Allon is first introduced as the avenger of seven of the murders of Israeli Olympians years ago. Although an artist when he began the assassinations, he had to change directions to become a world-class art restorer whose name recognition is not a problem.

    This has been a fascinating series. One reason is learning the inner workings of the Israeli thought process, especially concerning terrorists. If a bomb hit Israel, fully one-third of the world's Jews would be wiped out. Because of Israel's history, Israelis are particularly bold in protecting themselves.

    When terrorists hit the Vatican in an attempt on the Pope's life, Allon and CIA operative Adrian Carter join forces to bring down the terrorist behind the action and the money behind the terrorist. Zizi, the Saudi billionaire and the money man, is set up through an art deal, which Allon arranges. He hires an American art manager, a non-professional operative, Sarah Bancroft, who will become the messenger of the title. The meaning is different, however, in an undercover use. She basically becomes the go-between in a very complicated game of human chess. Losing means her life.

    What becomes the undoing of extremely careful and detailed preparation to insert Sarah into a terrorist organization is professionalism and zeal. Gabriel is an exacting planner, who knows when to extract his team if a single thing goes wrong. In this case, two teams of planners and killers, Israelis and Saudis, go head to head against each other. It is a single scar that disrupts this deadly game and checks the queen.

    What a thrilling series this is, watching seemingly actual headlines play out on pages of a book. Are these actions really possible in covert operations of governments. I don't doubt them in the least. Who is right and wrong in this war? Perhaps a better question is: What are the stakes and what is the outcome?...more info
  • Silva's best yet!
    Gabriel Allon, Israeli secret agent who covers as an art restorer - he is actually very good at restoration - finds himself searching for Ahmed bin Shafiq, a bloody terrorist responsible for a vicious attack at the Vatican. bin Shafiq has been busy orchestrating terrorist cells in their quest to eliminate both the Christian and Jewish people. He is funded by the Saudi billionaire Zizi al-Bakari who loves hording expensive art and living a lavish lifestyle. He abhors all others, most especially those who do not share his religious and cultural beliefs. When Gabriel's best friend and mentor Ari Shamron is nearly killed by bin Shafiq, he and Adrian Carter, Gabriel's CIA counterpart, hook up to put an end to this reign of terror once and for all. With the aid of an American, Sarah Bancroft, an art expert and CIA candidate, the team begins a relentless quest to eliminate both bin Shafiq and Zizi.

    The action flows through the pages of this exciting thriller. The story is well planned and will not disappoint. Character build up is well done, thus, you will not puzzle as to the hows and whys of everyones intentions....more info
  • First few pages are slow
    Once I struggled past the first few pages, the book became more interesting....more info
  • Shaken and stirred
    If you liked Silva's work before - read this one for sure. Yes, there will be a "warm puff of the sea" that will "caress her breast like a lover's breath". Yes, the good guys will break through the door just as the evildoer shoots at his hostage (and misses). I know, I know, James Bond got away with a lot more, but this one holds a higher promise - Gabriel the reluctant spy, low-key, no smart-aleck deadpans.

    And, indeed, most characters have a 3D quality to them, distinctive personalities, no cutouts, no Bond girls. An honorable mentioning goes to Nadia, the cynical emancipated daughter of a Saudi tycoon who will one day replace her father as the banker of Jihad. The book made me contemplate once again the Islamic threat. I would give it 4 1/2 but Amazon wants a whole number, so the fun factor prevails. ...more info
  • Shocking
    I just read about half of the Daniel Silva book The Messenger.
    In the past I have devoured lots of standard thrillers like Ludlum before strarting more "serious" literature or non fiction. Naomi Klein and Robert Fisk are writers that come to mind. But occasionally I enjoy to go back to thriller writers. So I strarted reading this book by Daniel Silva.
    This is absolutely shocking.
    Not because of the plot involving high placed Saudi billionaires financing terrorism or their involvement in fundamentalism which may very well be true, but because of the apparent fundamentalistic stance of the writer.
    Never have I read a book with a more forocious hatred of anything arab, with a more violent stance against palestinians.
    Every arab is a potential terrorist, every palestinian is a born terrorist.
    The separation wall in Israel is necessary to keep this vermin out, every other chapter has a reference to the holocaust, the war aqainst Iraq was necessary to put down terrorism, people are seperated and identified by either being jews or being gentile, anything else is unimportant. This is absolutely unbelievable.
    Nothing about the stealing of arab land by Israelis, the treatment of the palestinians, the punishing of an entire people for the acts of some of them, the keeping of an entire people and country imprisoned in a gigantic concentration camp, the treatment of arabs in general in the last fifty years, I could go on.
    This book is so badly written, from such a poorly researched subject, you could say that Ludlum is nuanced high quality literature compared to this.
    This writer should pay a visit to a therapist to help him deal with a violent hatred and a distorted world view.
    What's more shocking is the fact that most reviewers seem to subscribe to this world view.
    Read some books, people. Particularly The great war for civilisation by Robert Fisk, someone who lived all his life in the area and has a somewhat more nuanced view of the situation there.
    ...more info
  • The Messenger Delivers
    The Messenger, by Daniel Silva, features the 6th appearance of Gabriel Allon, an art restorer and spy. Allon is one of the better characters in the world of thrillers and msyteries. Generally conflicted about the nature of his work, I found Allon to be far less conflicted and all about the business of taking out the enemies. Never gory, nor incredibly violent, Silva takes us into the world of espionage. In this latest effort, we learn about covert communication that is done in a covert manner. The result makes for a very interesting read. Thought this book could easily stand alone, I highly recommend reading the books in order, as the character development is what separates these novels from typical cookie cutter protagonists. With each book, I wonder more and more about how Allon can keep up his covert work, since he was "outed" in the Prince of Fire. However, there appear to be many ways to keep him active, including introducing a great new series character in Sara.

    From the White House to the Vatican, from Israel to Saudi Arabia.. the Messenger delivers.

    An outstanding and highly recommended 5 star thriller!!!!...more info
  • Introduction to Dan Silva
    I got this book through BOMC. "The Messenger" was my introduction to Silva. I thought this was as good a Novel as I have read recently. I have since ordered three more Silva Novels (through Amazon!), and have not been disapppointed yet. Since reading this work I have discovered that Shamron was based on Shamir, the former Israeli Prime Minister . These Novels gave me a different outlook on Shamir, who I used to thoroughly detest.
    I think the fact that I have an interest in art created added interest in the Silva Novels, for me....more info
  • Outstanding thriller
    Fantastic. This is one of the best books I've read in a long time.

    Silva brings depth to his characters, creating nail-biting suspense that becomes excruciating as the climax draws near.

    Gabriel Allon is an outstanding protagonist, and I can't wait to read his further adventures....more info
  • Cut and paste
    "The Messenger" is by far the weakest of the series thus far. A great deal of the book seems to be a retread of the previous adventures of Gabriel Allon. Each of the books has a retelling of certain events and character traits in an attempt to let the reader catch up in the series at any time. Typically the repetition of information is concise, albeit moderately annoying for those who have read the books from the first. However, this particular novel not only repeated the descriptions of people and events from previous books, but seemed to take an inordinate amount of space doing so. The crux of the story seemed tacked on and weak. It does very little to advance the exploits of the hero and his cohorts....more info
  • Read This Book If You Love Spy Tradecraft
    The spy novel genre hasn't been the same since the cold war ended. Magnificent fictional forays and counter-forays of east and west against one another with the fate of the world in the balance provided marvelous drama that led to wonderful plots, seat-squirming suspense, and intense emotional involvement with the characters. Many have tried to resurrect the spy novel genre with modern-day terror and antiterrorist activities. In most cases, these stories don't carry the same weight. It's as though we know the tales are too fanciful to be real.

    In the Messenger, Daniel Silva has recaptured some of the zest of the cold war spy stories in an intense tale of an innocent sent out among the lethal to identify a terrorist leader. You'll easily find yourself imagining that you are Sarah Bancroft, a curator at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., who is recruited to infiltrate a terrorist-supporting Saudi billionaire's entourage.

    The plot is quite a complex one. Gabriel Allon has been retired from spying while he quietly pursues his profession of art restorer. Israeli intelligence is checking out a terror suspect when the man is accidentally killed, leaving his laptop computer to be accessed. From the images, the Israelis conclude that the Vatican is a target. Allon is brought in to see what can be done to avoid an attack. Soon, events roll into motion that require more than prevention at the Vatican as the Israelis target a former Saudi official who seems to be running terror networks. Sarah Bancroft is recruited, and the hunt is on. Time is of the essence. Can they identify the target before the terrorists identify Sarah's true allegiances?

    The book's main weakness is that connecting the book's opening to the rest of the series takes up a lot of space. If you've read the other books, you don't need that much background. If you haven't read the other books, it's still too much. Then, the development of the spy gambit takes awhile to get off the ground. As a result, not much of the good material in the book occurs before page 110. But stick around. If you are patient with the opening, you'll be pleased with the rest, especially after page 162.
    ...more info
  • Message in a Bottle
    And a small bottle, at that.

    I love Daniel Silva's writing, but it seems like his Gabriel Allon books have been getting ... slimmer, and slighter. Silva has mined his character's personal past and his legacy from the Holocaust, and it seems like there's little left to delve into.

    Read the first 6 books of this series, and realize that these last couple of books are further updates on the characters and less deep explorations of the topics.

    If you want deep, heavy books with loads of characterization and plot twists, try: Rabid: A Novel by T.K. Kenyon, The Seville Communion by Arturo Perez-Reverte, or The Secret Ever Keeps by Art Tirrell. ...more info
  • Good Read, But.......
    Silva is an excellent storyteller. His books are filled with quality characters, the storylines are evenly paced, and the plots are unsettling in their reality.

    The Messenger meets all the criteria above, but falls a little short of Silva's best. I think part of the problem is that we already know the majority of the characters so well. Gabriel Allon is one the best characters in fiction. But, I have to wonder if he's reached his peak. He didn't seem to grow much as a character in this book.

    Sarah Bancroft is no more than an average heroine. Her entire character seemed to be built around the singular theme of the events of 9/11. The other supporting characters range from stellar to solid, but we know most of them already. Zizi is very believable, exactly as one would envision a financier of terror.

    Silva's done better, but his storytelling is so exemplary that one can still enjoy an aging storyline. ...more info
  • Delivers the Suspense
    Daniel Silva returns in peak form with this entry in the Gabriel Allon series. After the last entry in the series I was concerned that Silva had lost the magic he'd shown in his earlier books, but he seems to have regained his eye for thriller-writing, and lost much of the preachiness that dragged Prince of Fire down.

    The action and plotting are superb, and the last half of the novel is virtually impossible to put down.

    Highly recommended....more info
  • The Messenger
    This is the thrid book I have read from Daniel Silva. An excellent author whose books are well written, suspenseful with a great deal of depth. I highly recomment the Messenger....more info
  • Grim Thrills
    Another efficient but artless offering from Silva. I've read all his novels which once seemed like fun throwbacks to 70s paperbacks. Lately, these humorless exercises with Neo-Con lectures thrown in, are getting harder to enjoy. I'm not asking for Jason Bourne-style self-disgust, but could Gabriel Allon have just one moment's expression of the slightest qualms about ignoring all international laws as he traipses the globe assassinating the enemies of Israel? (Here he even gets props from his old buddy the Pope!) ...more info
  • Spy vs Jihad Inc.
    Silva is at the top of the heap when it comes to the modern day spy novel. His novels feature interesting and compelling characters and the storylines seem realistic and current. "The Messenger" tackles the challenges of fighting against global jihad. In the book, the characters fight against Jihad Inc. in a way that you wish our intelligence agencies could fight against it--call it the Jack Bauer approach. I've read two of Silva's novels so far and have not been disappointed. ...more info
  • the messenger by Daniel Silva
    This is an incredible book, thrilling and keeps you on the edge till the end....more info
  • Another good installment in the series
    Another very readable effort by Silva. While it starts slowly (probably because Silva has become so successful that his editors no longer edit for length), you won't be able to put it down for the final one hundred pages....more info
  • Follow the money
    Winner of the 2007 Barry Award for best thriller.

    It is a quirk of civilization that extremists occasionally pop to the surface with various ideologies. Some are out for personal gain, e.g., some of my Crusader ancestors. Others are committed to a narrow religious belief. Historically, they have carried out massacres, ran inquisitions, etc. Usually they are not nice people. You do not want them for neighbors.

    In the present story, Muslim extremists attack the Vatican. Attacking the center of someone's religion is a definite no-no (it would be like bombing Mecca). Gabriel is sent out to track down the mastermind behind the attack and eliminate the person. He has past experience assassinating terrorists. Both sides have large amounts of money and resources, but a targeted person is always at a disadvantage, never knowing where or when he might be in someone's sights, or who might be pulling the trigger. Money talks, and there are people willing to sell information for a price (personal gain before ideology).

    To track down the terrorist mastermind, Gabriel orchestrates an elaborate sting operation to place an agent inside the enemy's defenses. That is a major part of the story. Many people are put at risk, and will need to go into protection programs. Some assets can only be used once.

    The rest of the story is the process of carrying out the operation. It helps to have skilled computer hackers, housebreakers, and assassins working for your organization. Various spear carriers are killed along the way. This is a take-no-prisoners type operation. Many survivors come away scarred....more info
  • Masterful Suspense
    My only regret about The Messenger I read it before the other books in Daniel Silva's series. I probably missed a lot of richness of the context and interplay between the characters. Nevertheless, this book grabbed me from the start with the sort of beginning that usually occurs at the climax of a spy novel and then led me through a nail-biting and excruciating (in the best sense of the word) adventure that was both thrilling and chilling to the bone. Besides being a great storyteller, Silva is an excellent writer and a cut above most in this genre. The characters and scenes are fascinating, vivid, and real.

    The Messenger takes place in the war against terror with the Israelis being the good guys. There is no room for moral relativity and equivalence type arguments in this book. Some may be put off by the pro-Israeli bent, but I found it refreshing. The world and issues of our time are complex and sometimes gray, but I believe Silva's world is much closer than not to the truth. Now I intend to go through this series from the beginning and look forward to becoming more acquainted with the characters. Someday I will re-read The Messenger and expect to enjoy it even more.
    ...more info
  • Yuck
    Nothing like the earlier Allon books, which were fantastic. This one clunks and plods and then bottoms out with Allon ending up, Zelig-like, in the middle of the most contrived, ridiculous plot twist imaginable. Trust me, this one was for the money. Next time, lets hope Silva takes his time, ditches the irritatingly earnest and strident female lead, and spends more time on the plot....more info
  • Riveting...
    Daniel Silva is a masterful story teller. Gabriel Alon is a worthy hero and this installment does the entire franchise justice....more info
  • Painted into a corner ...
    That this latest spy saga starring the Jewish art restorer/secret agent Gabriel Allon succeeds in spite being the most overtly propagandistic testifies to Daniel Silva's immense writing skills. Silva deposits the Bad Guys -- Saudi funded, untouchable Arab terorists -- in a post 9/11 political environment renewing their war against the West by a massive bombing of the Vatican and subsequent plot to assassinate both the Pope and the President together. Nevermind that the scene of 600 victims in the Vatican bombing leads to two miilion US protestors there a few months later. Nevermind that the Saudis can strike down Israeli oficials inside Israel with ease and impunity. Nevermind that Big Oil money can compromise and silence US intelligence to the point that Gariel and his loveable band of operatives are left alone to save the world. As Shamron, Gabriel's boss says, the new enemy (unlike the PLO at Munich or Nazi/ Swiss bankers or Nazi/Catholic alliances) is like a cancer that's infected everything.
    But, hold on, we're not entirely alone. Now Gabriel, with the covert aid of the CIA, gets to recruit a young American woman into his arcane world of international espionage. This process makes the book what it is by giving us a window into the now compromised Allon's theatre. Add to that the opulence of Silva's resources -- his insights into geography, art, language and the inner sanctums of world power -- and some clever narrative twists -- such as describing Allons brush with the arch villain Ahmed bi Shafiq by using the baffled restaurant employees' eyewitness account of the charade. Did anyone see what happened?
    And Allon remains elusive and idiosynchraticas ever. Our hero abstains from food and drink (except when he must pose as a drunken tourist) and abhores others smoking (except when father figure Shamron lights up). Although mostly he's become -- when not being a confident to the Pope or the US President -- a paternal overseer to his new recruit and his old band of neviots.
    All in all while the easel and frame for this picture is fragile and imploded from the start, the canvass of the restorer is as nuanced and brilliant as ever. The one exception being the vacuous love affair with his fiancee Chiara, which the author did not take time to develope in this book. However, aside from this pending marriage, the high profile nature of this latest mission seems to have painted our artist into a corner. It feels like retirement is next for Daniel Silva's Jewish hero....more info