Putnam, 2008 (2008)
Hardcover, Audio, CD, e-Book
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Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
, Daniel Silva gives readers a slick and speedy thriller starring Israeli art restorer/superspy Gabriel Allon. As the story opens, Gabriel is on a working honeymoon with new wife Chiara at the Villa Dei Fiori in Umbria, Italy (the work and location set up for him by a Vatican grateful for his help on previous occasions).
hile Gabriel paints in Umbria, a Russian journalist is efficiently assassinated in Courchevel, an '
exclusive ski resort high in the French Alps
' which each December morphs into '
a village under Russian occupation
'. Soon Gabriel is summoned by Israeli chief of Special Ops Uzi Navot, there at the bidding of the legendary Ari Shamron. They want Allon to meet an associate of the murdered journalist, who has something to tell them of '
a grave threat to the security of the West and to the State of Israel.
fter this contact is also killed by a top professional, Gabriel's masters send him to Moscow to uncover the source of the information - and extract more. As a disguised Allon enters Moscow, readers learn about the titular
Assume every room is bugged and every telephone call monitored. Assume every person you encounter is under opposition control. And don't look back. You are never completely alone.
n Moscow, Gabriel learns that the journalists' source is Elena Kharkov, the beautiful wife of a multinational arms dealer, former KGB colonel Ivan Kharkov. He sells to terrorists, and will soon provide them with an advanced (possibly nuclear) '
' that would put Tel Aviv well within Syria's range and '
alter the strategic balance in the Middle East overnight
'. But how can Gabriel reach Kharkov's wife to learn more? Elena is under constant surveillance, and always surrounded by bodyguards.
uckily, Elena Kharkov is obsessed with the work of American Impressionist painter Mary Cassatt, a fact that Gabriel uses to set up an opening for meetings, which he uses to persuade the arms dealer's wife to take an extraordinary risk. And when things go awry - as they inevitably do - Gabriel put his own life on the line to save those who trusted him, even when it seems he might '
personally reignite the Cold War
' by his actions.
f you enjoy cultured spy thrillers that jet heroes around the world to spend time with lovely ladies and take down larger than life villains, you'll devour
. I read it in one sitting and also enjoyed the
at the end, in which Silva discusses Mary Cassatt's art, the very real threat to Russian journalists, the '
promiscuity of Russian arms sales in the Middle East
', and the reality of
Listen to a podcast author interview at
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