The Heist by Daniel Silva – Books

the Heist by Daniel Silva NewsOK

Daniel Silva’s 14th book featuring his reader’s favorite Israeli spy is The Heist. Gabriel Allon kills the people who do evil in the world (Europe and the Middle East for the most part). Gabriel is an unlikely hero, slight of build, not very tall, with a full head of dark hair graying at the temples. He has aged some through the years and is somewhere in his fifties but he has a new young wife, Chiara, who also works for “the Office”. Gabriel feels regret for the killing he does but he doesn’t let that govern him because these are villains exhibiting some serious anti-social behaviors.

Gabriel is an unusual spy because he is a great art restorer (who perhaps would have been a great artist except for his mentor, Ari Shamron). Shamron recruited him and he wants Allon to agree to become the head of Israeli Intelligence. Gabriel has resisted this role but has recently promised that he will do that when Uzi Navot’s term ends.

Art heists have become common in Europe. Security in museums is often fairly lax or spread a bit thin. Art thieves have many ways to trick museums, but one of the safest is to employ a great forger. Empty spaces tend to attract attention, but it often takes time to identify a really good forgery as a fake. One painting, missing for a long time, is a Caravaggio painting of a mother and child. Gabriel may be Jewish but he specializes in restoring Renaissance religious art. He hopes to find that Caravaggio, but the painting seems to have fallen into the hands of a dictator who gases his own people.

So, there is a Syrian connection in this story, and Silva provides an informative backstory of the origins of the regime of Bashar al Assad, which is now in Gabriel’s sights. Gabriel cannot assassinate Assad, but he can try to make some of his ill-gotten fortune turn up in other bank accounts. There is a woman involved who works for a Saudi man who hides Assad’s fortune in lots of places where banking secrets are seen as sacred, and where laws can’t reach, such as the Cayman Islands. Gabriel doesn’t let women off the hook as sources and allies in matters of conscience. He has only lost one of the women he enlisted to help so far, although she was already ill and dying. Does the woman he recruits this time live through this op?

Does Gabriel Allon get Assad’s money? Does he find the Caravaggio? Does Chiara lose the twins she is carrying? Fourteen books later, still good stuff.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search, NewOK

The English Girl by Daniel Silva – Book

The English Girl ClipZui.com

The English Girl by Daniel Silva stands out as a Gabriel Allon book that sort of breaks the mold. It has all the characters we expect to find, but they don’t show up for quite a while. Instead Gabriel teams up with a character who has enticed our interest from time to time, Christopher Keller.

Christopher Keller is a dead man. On the record he died as a British soldier. In actual fact he was the only survivor of a deadly attack. Since his parents in London have already mourned his death, and since he has no official identity he took a job as an assassin in the service of Don Orsati, the “Don” of Corsica. Don Orsati pays well and he treat Chris Keller like a son.

Up to now Silva has used Christopher sparingly in his books, perhaps because he does not always “fight for the right”. But in The English Girl he teams up with Gabriel and we see a social, “bro”-style side to Gabriel that we rarely if ever see. The two men seem relaxed with each other. This may also be because the details of this particular spy tale are a bit unusual.

Gabriel is supposed to be permanently retired but when a young English woman on a Corsican vacation is kidnapped, Graham Seymour of MI5 (soon to be MI6) asks Gabriel for some hush-hush help. Why is this girl more important than your average British subject? Perhaps because she holds the Prime Minister’s career in her hands. Since Gabriel’s trail starts on Corsica, Christopher is a natural choice for a partner in the investigation which seems like it will be quite simple to resolve. Also Christopher owes Gabriel a favor and Gabriel has a token attesting to that debt which he plans to redeem.

Corsica requires certain behaviors that must be observed if one wants to borrow Keller from Don Orsati. Gabriel must always stop by to see Don Orsati first and share a meal and a few intimidating amenities. And, although Gabriel scoffs at superstition, a rather talented seer must be consulted. For some reason she tells Gabriel he will die if he goes to Moscow. How could the kidnapping of an English girl possibly have a Moscow connection? To unravel that mystery you will have to start in Corsica with Gabriel and Christopher. I did not foresee the twist this thriller takes. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search, ClipZui.com

Find me on goodreads.com as Nancy Brisson

Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva – Book

the fallen angel You Tube

Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva is Book 12 in the Gabriel Allon series, the fictional, but famous spy for the Israeli Intelligence Service at the Office on King Saul Boulevard in Tel Aviv Israel. Gabriel is an unusual person to be an assassin for justice, world peace, and the survival of Israel. He is an artist who gave up an artist’s life (his own) when recruited by Shamron, the aging hero of Israel, to pursue the terrorists who killed athletes from his beloved homeland at the Olympics in Munich.

Since that op he has trained with a talented art restorer and has become one of the best restorers of classic religious art in Europe. He is a bundle of contradictions but his strong values tie the whole package together. Gabriel’s family was, for the most part, killed in the Holocaust, except his mother who never really recovered from the horrors she experienced. Gabriel lost his first wife and his son to a car bomb, probably targeted towards Gabriel. Terrorists blew his life away right before his eyes. And even though they failed to kill the one the car bomb was designed to kill this became a sorrow he had to carry with him always. It hardened his heart in a more personal way and made him more lethal, more determined to fight evil in the world.

Through the first 11 books there have been plenty of evil actors to stop in their tracks, tracks which always are about either power and world domination or money or both. Eventually Gabriel remarried to the beautiful Chiara, daughter of a Rabbi, who also does intelligence work for the Office. Sometimes she is with him on ops and sometimes she stays home. Putting her at risk brings back old memories for Gabriel. After a while Allon is joined by a team, each person with different strengths and we become concerned about their safety in these rather impossible-seeming, risky, but usually successful operations they undertake. Gabriel is frequently wounded because he cannot let a villain get away. He retires every time he completes a mission as if he has beaten evil once and for all. But he knows this war is endless and he up-ends his life over and over again to do battle when he must. After a while we begin to wish there really was a Gabriel Allon and a Chiara, et al out there in the world, abolishing amorality and immorality.

So in Fallen Angel we have a lovely young woman who agrees to inventory antiquities in the Vatican collection who is found artistically dead after a fall from a balcony in the Sistine Chapel. At first her death is ruled a suicide. But Gabriel is a friend of the Vatican’s top two people, the Pope and his constant companion Father Donati, because he saved the Pope’s life and unraveled one of the plots that live in the competitive Vatican culture. Gabe is restoring a Caravaggio in some basement on the Vatican grounds and Donati has him summoned to tap into his expertise. Gabriel (also a fallen angel) does not believe this is a suicide. But when he pulls a couple of strings he opens a Pandora’s box of illegal trading in antiquities. These thieves never preserve provenance and this represents a huge loss of historical data about ancient sites and people. Once again what begins in Italy leads Gabriel all over the world and eventually home to Israel.

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search – You Tube

Find me on goodreads.com as Nancy Brisson

The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva – Book

the Rembrandt Affair HubPages

Book 10 in the Gabriel Allon Series, The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva, begins with Gabriel back in Cornwall, England by the sea and this time he is with Chiara. They have been released from the Israeli Secret Service, now being run by Uzi Navot from the “Office” on King Saul Boulevard. There is something quite romantic about Cornwall but also simple and rugged that seems appropriate to a man like Gabriel.

The problem with writing a long series of books with basically the same cast of characters is that accommodations must be made for readers who, perhaps, start with Book 10. This means that the author must describe characters that many readers already know, again and again. There are ways to do this but some people who have been with a series from Book 1 begin to find the repetition a bit tedious. However, in writing a series, readers also want the familiar characters to stay basically the same. Silva decides, in this case, to plug in old descriptions, sort of like boiler plates, to make the necessary introductions, or fill-in parts of the backstory. He has used more creative writing solutions to this dilemma in the past.

It took longer than usual to build to the action, but once the ride began, the thrill ride, Gabriel got called back into action, and since the mystery to be solved was about a painting, a Rembrandt, Gabriel and Chiara got sucked right out of Cornwall fast. It was Julien Isherwood’s fault, the Jewish/British art dealer. Where did a new Rembrandt come from? What was its provenance? Does this painting have any connection to the recent rash of art thefts museums are experiencing? Why is a man dead?

The hunt for this Rembrandt painting takes us back to the Nazi’s and the Swiss banks because there was no greater theft of a culture and a people than the possessions and the money stolen from Jewish families before they were railroaded off to concentration camps to be killed. A large part of what the Israeli Secret Service does is related to trying to restore things stolen from Jewish people and bringing those who stole and murdered to justice. This Rembrandt painting (not real, but symbolic of real paintings) has a sad, sad story to tell and conceals a secret that will help catch a greedy man posing as a very generous man.

This post war mishegas becomes entangled with Iran’s nuclear program because we are no longer dealing with the first generation of war criminals. We are now dealing with their children. How does the child of a father who was in the German SS turn out? Is he tainted by the sins of the father, or does he try to atone for the sins of the father?

What starts out slowly, gets very absorbing once it heats up. This time it is not Gabriel who takes a beating, and there is a new girl on Gabriel’s team. Will this be Zoe’s only appearance in a Silva book, or will she crop up again? What scary part of the world will Gabriel take us off to next time. Keep reading.

The Defector by Daniel Silva – Book

daniel_silva_thedefector_booksigning-520x390

In order to fully understand The Defector (Bk. 9, Gabriel Allon Series) by Daniel Silva it is helpful to recall the events at the end of Moscow Rules (Bk. 8, Gabriel Allon Series). Gabriel manages to escape from Russia (barely) with a Russian journalist, Olga Sukhova, whose colleagues have been assassinated, and with a man, Grigori Bulganov, who saved Gabriel’s life by making sure he did not die in Lubyanka, the Russian prison.

In The Defector we find out what Bulganov is up to in his new home, London. Silva, Daniel Silva, the author, calls London a Russian city because so many dispossessed Russians live there. Olga Sukhova, also in London with a new identity, is keeping a low profile. But Grigori is tempted out of hiding by another Russian who lives the high life in London.

When Grigori disappears on his way to a Chess game, Graham Seymour, head of British Intelligence, is not terribly upset. He decides that Grigori has become homesick and has “un” defected. However, when Gabriel Allon hears that Grigori is gone he has a different reaction. For one thing he knows that a very bad and powerful oligarch, Ivan Kharkov is still alive and well, although he has to stay in Russia for now. Gabriel also knows that he was able to help Ivan’s ex-wife Elena liberate some of Ivan’s money ($20 million) from a Swiss Bank. Since Elena is in protective custody in an unknown location with the couple’s two children, she needs that money. But you can imagine how much Ivan wants to get his hands on Elena, his children, and Gabriel. Since he can’t leave Russia right now, he must find a way to bring everyone to him.

Ivan Kharkov is a stone-cold bully boy who makes his money selling Russian weapons to people the rest of the world wants to keep weapons away from. Ivan’s hero is Stalin and he strives to model his behavior on the cruelty Stalin used as he purged (killed or tortured) any Russian citizen who he imagined might harbor sentients against his government (regime). Ivan managed to buy the dacha that once was Stalin’s summer home. Ivan uses his dacha to reenact Stalin’s bloody purges on a smaller scale.

When Gabriel doesn’t react right away to the disappearance of Grigori Ivan takes someone else and who he takes definitely gets Gabriel and his team moving.

Daniel Silva and his Israeli spy, Gabriel Allon, along with his team of Israeli operatives, expose bad actors all around Europe and the Middle East and offer up the satisfaction of giving them what they deserve in fiction, even though we often do not experience such justice in real life. When The Defector ends are we finally shut of Ivan Kharkov? My lips are sealed.

In notes at the conclusion of The Defector, Silva connects his fictional spy story to actual historical events that inspired it.

“There, from August 1937 to October 1938, an estimated twenty thousand people were shot in the back of the head and buried in long mass graves. I visited the recently opened memorial at Butovo with my family in the summer of 2007 while researching Moscow Rules, and in large measure it inspired The Defector. One question haunted me as I walked slowly past the burial trenches, accompanied by weeping Russian citizens. Why are there not more places like this? Places where ordinary Russians can see evidence of Stalin’s unimaginable crimes with their own eyes. The answer, of course, is that the rulers of the New Russia are not terribly interesting in exposing the sins of the Soviet past. On the contrary, they are engaged in a carefully orchestrated endeavor to airbrush away its most repulsive aspects while celebrating it achievements. The NKVD, which carried out the Great Terror at Stalin’s behest, was the forerunner of the KGB. And former officers of the KGB, including Vladimir Putin himself, are now running Russia.” -Author’s Note

Photo Credit: From a Google Image Search, Daemon Books

The Secret Servant by Daniel Silva – Book

the Secret Servant by Daniel You Tube

The Secret Servant by Daniel Silva begins with a dead Jewish scholar, as Gabriel Allon books often do. Professor Solomon Rosner is “the first asset in the annals of Office history to have proven more useful to them dead than alive.” He is killed in Amsterdam in a normally a peaceful neighborhood. Rosner runs the Center for European Security Studies. “[T]he center had managed to produce a steady stream of authoritative reports and articles detailing the threat posed to the Netherlands by the rise of militant Islam within its borders.” Rosner had a lot of enemies both Islamic and Dutch. He is killed on the way to lunch by one of the painters who has been working across the street from his office. Obviously painting is not the man’s only job.

Gabriel Allon flies into Tel Aviv and is met by Uzi Navot. Once a katsaor western European undercover case officer, Uzi is now Chief of Special Ops. He had done jobs no one else wanted to do, executioner, kidnapper, bugger, blackmailer. Uzi is a bit bitter about Gabriel’s star status. Uzi to Gabriel: “Art restoration was your cover job, Gabriel. You are not an art restorer. You are a secret servant of the state of Israel and You have no right to leave the fighting to others.”

Shamron reveals that Rosner also worked for the Office. Rosner was to keep eyes and ears on Islamic extremism to give some early warning of possible terrorist targets. Rosen helped them stop and assassinate the members of an al-Qaeda affiliated “cell operating in West Amsterdam [when they] got their hands on a missile and were planning to shoot down an El Al jetliner.”

The painter who killed Rosen was named Mohammed Hamza and there was a videotape found in his apartment. Gabriel is to go get all of Rosen’s files which ends up being about 500,000 documents. Rosen started out as a sayan. “[S]ayanimare a worldwide network of volunteer Jewish helpers, Bankers are used to provide cash for Office agents, doctors treated them in secret, hoteliers gave rooms under false names, rental car employees gave them untraceable vehicles. Then Shamron recruited him.

Gabriel is given an assistant, Eli Lavon. He is described as small and bookish, with wispy unkempt hair and quick brown eyes – As usual he seems to be wearing all his clothes at once. And he is “the finest street surveillance artist the Office has ever produced.” He is an archeologist by training and has also been an ayinor tracker.

Gabriel and Eli Lavon meet Sophie Vanderhaus, Prof. Rosner’s assistant at the same café where Rosner was killed. At the end of a long day going over files Gabriel goes out for Thai food – and never comes back. Someone, an old Arabic man wearing keffiyeh and kufi, follows Gabriel and, after Gabriel almost kills him, the man says he has come to help them. He worked with Rosen. He is Ibrahim Fawaz.

Ibrahim tells Gabriel that, “Takfir was a concept developed by Islamists in Egypt in the nineteen seventies, a theological sleight of hand designed to give the terrorists a sacred license to kill almost anyone they pleased in order to achieve their goals of imposing sharia and restoring the Caliphate. To the Takfiri, democracy was a heresy, for it supplanted the laws of God with the laws of men.” “Muslim citizens of a democracy were apostates and could be put to the sword.

Fawaz also tells Gabriel about Samir al-Masri who is a dangerous man, and that Samir and four other young men have disappeared from Amsterdam. They go to search his room. In Samir’s room they find photos of Samir in Trafalgar Square, Samir with a member of the Queen’s Life Guard outside Buckingham Palace, Samir riding the Millenium wheel, Samir at the House of Parliament and the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square. Guess who’s going to London now?

As they part ways Eli says, “And so here we are again two nice Jewish boys, sitting on a European street corner at three o’clock in the morning. My God when will it end.” “It’s never going to end, Eli. This is forever.”

It can take a lot of build-up to get to the heart of the action in Silva’s popular spy thrillers. Back stories are long. Some readers run out of patience. But we are there now.

Gabriel is not exactly warmly welcomed in London and his cohorts there do not take the threat very seriously because they have been through so much. Gabriel narrows down the threat to Hyde Park and the American Embassy.

Robert Halton, the ambassador, waves his daughter, Elizabeth Halton, MD goodbye, not without trepidation, as she leaves for a run in the park. She is kidnapped in broad daylight by men dressed all in black and driving a park maintenance truck. Gabriel’s warning came too late, but he is in time to see the attack and shoot some kidnappers. Still, Elizabeth is gone.

Now Adrian Carter from the CIA, who is always a good partner joins the hunt since the American ambassador’s daughter is involved.

Who took her? What do they want? Will Gabriel get her back alive? What injuries will he sustain this time? Who is the mastermind of this plot.? How is Egypt involved? Who are the Swords of Allah? Who gets married?

Find me on Goodreads as Nancy Brisson.

Prince of Fire by Daniel Silva – Book

prince of fire big you tube

Most books in the Gabriel Allon series begin with violence; a murder or perhaps a bombing where someone who is Jewish or Israeli is targeted. In book five, Prince of Fireby Daniel Silva the catalyst to Gabriel’s newest investigation involves both. There is a bombing at the Israeli Embassy in Rome and then four terrorists arrive and target anyone who might have survived with automatic assault rifles. Both ambassadors who are present die.

Gabriel is an art restorer of some genius. He would be happy to do this full time, but he has also been trained as a skilled spy and assassin for the Israeli Secret Service. Shamron, his mentor, an irascible old survivor of the Palmach in the War of Independence in Israel, keeps suddenly appearing in Gabriel’s peaceful life in Europe, where the great cathedrals and paintings live. Suddenly Gabriel will get a whiff of a smelly Turkish cigarette and know his peace will be disturbed because someone else’s peace has been shattered.

A mysterious man rents a villa in Bracciano, Italy, a Monsieur Jean-Luc. He arrives in January and vanishes in late February. The owner of the villa remembers that he spoke French with an upper-class accent.

Near the Borghese Gardens in Rome with its “elegant boulevards and quiet leafy streets, on a cul de sac sits the Israeli Embassy in Rome.

“Survivors and witnesses would recall the perfection of that late-winter morning: bright and clear, cold enough in the shadows to bring on a shiver, warm enough in the sun to unbutton a wool coat and dream of an al fresco lunch”

This stellar late-winter day is disturbed by first the aforementioned truck bomb and then by the four men with automatic rifles who jump from a car to shoot any survivors.

Once the Intelligence service on King Saul Boulevard in Tel Aviv collects itself, the Roman katsa (Hebrew for a undercover foreign office manager) Shimon Pazner is located and the terrorists movements are traced. Forty-eight hours later investigators find a hurriedly abandoned room pointed out by a Tunisian informant. After a thorough search the investigators find a computer disc sewn into the lining of one piece of the abandoned luggage. Shimon takes the computer disc to Tel Aviv because they have had reason to develop excellent skills for decoding encrypted information.

What they find sends them off looking for Gabriel who happens to be away from the Bellini painting he was restoring in Venice. He is in London to see an old and useful friend, Julian Isherwood, an art dealer and friend of the Israeli Secret Service, and to visit his wife who had been badly burned and emotionally damaged in a car bomb incident in Vienna. Gabriel and Leah’s son was killed. Now Leah goes through her days in silence and seems unable to remember Gabriel.

“Leah had been punished for his sins. Leah was the price a decent man paid for climbing into the sewer with murderers and terrorists.”

Gabriel is at the sanitorium to let Leah know that he intends to marry Chiara who lives with him in Venice and also works for the Office on King Saul Boulevard, but he finds he cannot say the words to her.

Shamron finds Gabriel at last when Gabriel returns to Venice and Chiara and the Bellini. Shamron reveals that the computer disc they decoded contained a detailed dossier of Gabriel’s assassination activities for the Office. Fingerprints identified the holder of the dossier as Daoud Hadawi, a Palestinian refugee. The same computer disc also contained photos and security analyses for targets in Europe. Gabriel could not say no to Shamron. Chiara is coming too.

Gabriel is given an office in Room 456C at King Saul Boulevard and this time he has a team. Chiara is bat leveyha, Hebrew for a girl escort officer. Yossi comes from Research, Dina, from History, Yaakov from Arab Affairs is a shabak, a body guard, Rimona is from Military Intelligence and is Shamron’s niece. Using what they know, the name and national origin of Daoud Hadawi, they begin their investigation, which also seems to have a connection to Yasir Arafat, by interviewing all of their Arab informants.

“Gabriel began each day by posing the same series of questions. Who built the bomb? Who conceived and planned the attack? Who directed the teams? Who secured the safe houses and the transport? Who handled the money: Who was the mastermind? Was there a state sponsor in Damascus or Tehran or Tripoli?”

And who is Khaled al-Khalifa. “Khaled is a rumor. Khaled is a ghost story. He is the thing that is missing.”

The investigation will lead far and wide. How many times will Gabriel be wounded in the search for Khaled al-Kalifa? Who else will die? Will Gabriel ever get to finish working on the Bellini in Venice? Will he ever tell Leah about Chiara? So many questions I can’t answer because that would ruin this excellent spy story.

Photo credit: From a Google Image Search – You Tube