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Daniel Silva is one of the best political/espionage thriller writers around and this is the 14th adventure featuring Gabriel Allon. By this time most writers are finding it difficult to find different plots but this action-packed story is as current as today's news headlines about the Middle East at the end of the Arab Spring.
Gabriel Allon is one of the most fascinating characters in modern espionage fiction. He operates in two quite distinct worlds, that of a world renowned art restorer and that of a senior operative of Israel's Security Intelligence Service - "the Office". He is a skilled artist in both worlds, one very gentle and the other, while still very skilled, at times can be very violent.
Gabriel is living in Venice and is having one of his rare times of contentment, restoring a notable artwork and his beautiful wife Chiara (also an operative) is expecting twins. During this peace he is also pondering his future when in a year he is committed to become head of the Office.
"Not peace, though; for this restorer, peace was only the period between the last war and the next....men such as the restorer never allowed themselves to be seduced by the notion that peace would ever be possible."
His peace is disturbed by a visit from General Ferrari of the Italian Art Squad with a clever proposition with terms he couldn't refuse. Ferrari asks Gabriel to help him investigate the torture and murder of Jack Bradshaw, a former British diplomat, and art collector and help him track down stolen art, especially the holy grail, an altarpiece by Caravaggio that has been missing for decades. What Gabriel doesn't realise is that this will not only send him into the dark world of stolen art and forgery and but ultimately on the money trail of the finances of a Middle East dictator which will involve the Office in one of its most unusual cases.
Returning readers may find the story starts slowly as as Gabriel collects together a fascinating team of specialists from both sides of the fence that he has worked with in the past to help him. Silva introduces each character quickly and effectively making it easy for the first reader to follow but also helping others to remember the characters from other adventures.
This book shows once again the depth of Daniel Silva's research and understanding of the of the dangerous world of the Middle East. Fans of Gabriel Allon will not be disappointed but will probably be surprised to see a softening as he contemplates fatherhood and the responsibilities to come. While the characters and the modus operandi are a similar to previous adventures and could be considered a bit predictable by some, this contemporary tale is probably one of the most complex, puzzling, nail biting, and exciting with an ending that is hard to predict.
With impending fatherhood and Gabriel due to take over the helm of the Office, I will certainly be looking forward to the the next book in the series.