The Kill Artist (Gabriel Allon Series #1)

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Former Israeli intelligence operative Gabriel Allon is drawn back into the game to take on a cunning terrorist on one last killing spree, a Palestinian zealot who played a dark part in Gabriel's past. And what begins as a manhunt turns into a globe-spanning duel fueled by both political intrigue and deep personal passions...

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Former Israeli intelligence operative Gabriel Allon is drawn back into the game to take on a cunning terrorist on one last killing spree, a Palestinian zealot who played a dark part in Gabriel's past. And what begins as a manhunt turns into a globe-spanning duel fueled by both political intrigue and deep personal passions...

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Our Review
Four years ago, Daniel Silva hit the ground running with The Unlikely Spy, a big, ambitious World War II drama that evoked comparisons with Robert Harris, Ken Follett, and John Le Carré. In his fourth and latest novel, The Kill Artist, Silva turns to the twisted history and undying blood feuds of the Middle East and solidifies his position as one of the most accomplished new practitioners of the international thriller.

The hero of The Kill Artist is Gabriel Allon, a world-class art restorer and former Israeli intelligence agent who lost his wife and son to a Palestinian car bombing in 1991. As the novel opens, Gabriel is living a solitary, tightly focused existence on the Cornish coast of England when a figure from the past -- legendary spymaster Ari Shamron -- reenters his life. Shamron, the agent responsible for the kidnapping and capture of Adolph Eichman, has a brand new scheme in mind, a scheme that requires Gabriel Allon's services.

A renegade Arab terrorist known only as Tariq has recently resurfaced. He has murdered a number of prominent Israeli supporters, and his reign of terror threatens the success of the delicately balanced Middle East peace talks. Faced with the prospect of confronting Tariq, the man responsible for the destruction of his family, Gabriel comes out of retirement, and agrees to mount the final intelligence initiative of his career.

The operation that follows is a tortuous affair, marked by departmental wrangling, hidden political agendas, and wheels within wheels. The action unfolds in a series of crisp, tightly constructed set pieces that range from the capitals of Europe (Paris, London, Lisbon) to Jerusalem itself, with intermittent stops in Montreal, New York City, and Washington, DC. Characters caught up in the drama include a London-based art dealer who has fallen on hard times, a Rupert Murdoch- style media magnate, and a world famous fashion model whose glossy, high-profile lifestyle conceals her tragic family history, and her occasional role as a clandestine operative for the Israeli secret service.

John Le Carré -- particularly the Le Carré of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy and The Little Drummer Girl -- is a pervasive presence throughout this novel. And though Silva never quite reaches Le Carré's level of stylistic mastery and psychological complexity, he has clearly absorbed some valuable lessons, and has developed into a strong, seductive storyteller with his own distinctive voice. The Kill Artist is a moving, thoughtful, evenhanded examination of a troubled corner of the world, and it deserves the attention of serious thriller fans everywhere.

--Bill Sheehan

Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. His book-length critical study of the fiction of Peter Straub, At the Foot of the Story Tree, has been published by Subterranean Press (

From The Critics
What seemed at first like a promising career has now veered toward the predictable and slightly silly. Silva's first novel, The Unlikely Spy, was a new take on a tired genre. His second and third books, while not as fresh, were satisfying high-speed adventures. With this book, Silva has slipped into the rousing-but-exhausted world of Robert Ludlum. The hero of the story is Gabriel Allon, a onetime master spy for the Israeli intelligence service who is so good he goes by only his last name (are you tracking the silliness quotient?). Allon bailed out of the spy business when his wife and child were killed, presumably by the Palestinian superterrorist Tariq. When Tariq surfaces years later with plans to derail the Middle East peace process, revenge compels Allon to join in the search. From there it's pretty much a straightforward fox hunt, which in this genre means the fox is often the one doing the hunting. The book lacks depth and when you're done, you'll have to remind yourself who wrote the thing. Frankly, it could have been one of about six writers, all of whom are kicking out the same kind of book, complete with interchangeable characters and indistinguishable plots.
—Randy Michael Signor

Library Journal
A former Mossad agent, now an art restorer, is tapped to help thwart a Palestinian plot to halt peace talks by assassinating Yasir Arafat. Another December 26 release. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.\
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780451209337
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 4/6/2004
  • Series: Gabriel Allon Series , #1
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 512
  • Sales rank: 1,171
  • Product dimensions: 4.38 (w) x 7.50 (h) x 1.12 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Silva is the #1 New York Times-bestselling author of The English Girl, The Fallen Angel, The Unlikely Spy, The Mark of the Assassin, The Marching Season, The Kill Artist, The English Assassin, The Confessor, A Death in Vienna, Prince of Fire, The Messenger, The Secret Servant, Moscow Rules and The Defector. He is married to NBC News Today correspondent Jamie Gangel. They have two children, Lily and Nicholas. In 2009 Silva was appointed to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Council.


Daniel Silva was attending graduate school in San Francisco when United Press International offered him a temporary job covering the 1984 Democratic National Convention. Later that year, the wire service offered him full-time employment; he quit grad school and went to work for UPI -- first in San Francisco, then in Washington, D.C., and finally as a Middle East Correspondent posted in Cairo. While covering the Iran-Iraq War in 1987, he met NBC correspondent Jamie Gangel. They married, and Silva returned to Washington to take a job with CNN.

Silva was still at CNN when, with the encouragement of his wife, he began work on his first novel, a WWII espionage thriller. Published in 1997, The Unlikely Spy became a surprise bestseller and garnered critical acclaim. ("Evocative... memorable..." said The Washington Post; "Briskly suspenseful," raved The New York Times). On the heels of this somewhat unexpected success, Silva quit his job to concentrate on writing.

Other books followed, all earning respectable reviews; but it was Silva's fourth novel that proved to be his big breakthrough. Featuring a world-famous art restorer and sometime Israeli agent named Gabriel Allon, The Kill Artist (2000) fired public imagination and soared to the top of the bestseller charts. Gabriel Allon has gone on to star in several sequels, and his creator has become one of our foremost novelists of espionage intrigue, earning comparisons to such genre superstars as John Le Carré. Frederick Forsythe, and Robert Ludlum. Silva's books have been translated into more than 25 languages and have been published around the world.

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Read an Excerpt

By coincidence Timothy Peel arrived in the village the same week in July as the stranger. He and his mother moved into a ramshackle cottage at the head of the tidal creek with her latest lover, a struggling playwright named Derek, who drank too much wine and detested children. The stranger arrived two days later, settling into the old foreman’s cottage just up the creek from the oyster farm.

Peel had little to do that summer—when Derek and his mother weren’t making clamorous love, they were taking inspirational forced marches along the cliffs—so he determined to find out exactly who the stranger was and what he was doing in Cornwall. Peel decided the best way to begin was to watch. Because he was eleven, and the only child of divorced parents, Peel was well schooled in the art of human observation and investigation. Like any good surveillance artist, he required a fixed post. He settled on his bedroom window, which had an unobstructed view over the creek. In the storage shed he found a pair of ancient Zeiss binoculars, and at the village store he purchased a small notebook and ballpoint pen for recording his watch report.

The first thing Peel noticed was that the stranger liked old objects. His car was a vintage MG roadster. Peel would watch from his window as the man hunched over the motor for hours at a time, his back poking from beneath the bonnet. A man of great concentration, Peel concluded. A man of great mental endurance.

After a month the stranger vanished. A few days passed, then a week, then a fortnight. Peel feared the stranger had spotted him and taken flight. Bored senseless without the routine of watching, Peel got into trouble. He was caught hurling a rock though the window of a tea shop in the village. Derek sentenced him to a week of solitary confinement in his bedroom.

But that evening Peel managed to slip out with his binoculars. He walked along the quay, past the stranger’s darkened cottage and the oyster farm, and stood at the point where the creek fed into the Helford River, watching the sailboats coming in with the tide. He spotted a ketch heading in under power. He raised the binoculars to his eyes and studied the figure standing at the wheel.

The stranger had come back to Port Navas.

The ketch was old and badly in need of restoration, and the stranger cared for it with the same devotion he had shown his fickle MG. He toiled for several hours each day: sanding, varnishing, painting, polishing brass, changing lines and canvas. When the weather was warm he would strip to the waist. Peel couldn’t help but compare the stranger’s body with Derek’s. Derek was soft and flabby; the stranger was compact and very hard, the kind of man you would quickly regret picking a fight with. By the end of August his skin had turned nearly as dark as the varnish he was so meticulously applying to the deck of the ketch.

He would disappear aboard the boat for days at a time. Peel had no way to follow him. He could only imagine where the stranger was going. Down the Helford to the sea? Around the Lizard to St. Michael’s Mount or Penzance? Maybe around the cape to St. Ives.

Then Peel hit upon another possibility. Cornwall was famous for its pirates; indeed, the region still had its fair share of smugglers. Perhaps the stranger was running the ketch out to sea to meet cargo vessels and ferry contraband to shore.

The next time the stranger returned from one of his voyages, Peel stood a strict watch in his window, hoping to catch him in the act of removing contraband from the boat. But as he leaped from the prow of the ketch onto the quay, he had nothing in his hands but a canvas rucksack and plastic rubbish bag.

The stranger sailed for pleasure, not profit.

Peel took out his notebook and drew a line through the word smuggler.

The large parcel arrived the first week of September, a flat wooden crate, nearly as big as a barn door. It came in a van from London, accompanied by an agitated man in pinstripes. The stranger’s days immediately assumed a reverse rhythm. At night the top floor of the cottage burned with light—not normal light, Peel observed, but a very clear white light. In the mornings, when Peel left home for school, he would see the stranger heading down the creek in the ketch, or working on his MG, or setting off in a pair of battered hiking boots to pound the footpaths of the Helford Passage. Peel supposed he slept afternoons, though he seemed like a man who could go a long time without rest.

Peel wondered what the stranger was doing all night. Late one evening he decided to have a closer look. He pulled on a sweater and coat and slipped out of the cottage without telling his mother. He stood on the quay. looking up at the stranger’s cottage. The windows were open; a sharp odor hung on the air, something between rubbing alcohol and petrol. He could also hear music of some sort—singing, opera perhaps.

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Table of Contents

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Reading Group Guide

1. Gabriel Allon's work as one of the world's foremost art restorers has significant parallels to his work as one of the world’s foremost intelligence operatives. Indeed, the part titles of The Kill Artist allude to these parallels: Part One, "Acquisition"; Part Two, "Assessment"; and Part Three, "Restoration." What are the various parallels suggested by these part titles? What are the similarities between Gabriel's work in art restoration and his work in intelligence operations? The goal of the art restorer is to restore a painting so well that it's nearly impossible to tell the difference between the restorer's work and the original artist's. How is a similar kind of deception and layering of identity a part of intelligence work?

2. One of the epigraphs of the book is the motto of the Israeli secret service, the Mossad: "By way of deception, thou shalt do war." It turns out that in various ways this motto applies just as much to the workings within the Israeli secret service as it does to their dealings with their enemies. Towards the end of the novel, Yassir Arafat alludes to just that aspect when he says of Ari Shamron, "Shamron makes a habit of never letting the left hand know what the right hand is doing." How does Shamron employ this method through the course of the plan to assassinate Tariq? In many ways his plan is a brilliant success as a result. What negative consequences result from his method?

3. Ari Shamron trained Gabriel to become one of the world's best intelligence operatives. In the process, Gabriel became Shamron's best and most prized student and the two ended up working closely togetherfor many years. Such a relationship necessarily draws its strength from the bonds of trust and loyalty that are established, but at the same time of course their relationship is not immune to deception, given their environment. How does Shamron deceive Gabriel and vice versa, and how do their deceptions affect their relationship, both professional and personal? What can one say about their relationship by the novel's end?

4. Near the beginning of the novel, Gabriel says to Ari Shamron, "When you look into a man's eyes while pouring lead into his body, it feels more like murder than war." Shamron replies, "It's not murder, Gabriel. It was never murder."The distinction between murder and war in this novel is obviously extremely murky and complex. What lines of reasoning might one follow in support of Gabriel's position? And Shamron's? What is it in each of their characters and/or life experiences that causes them to disagree?

5. Part of Gabriel's reason for agreeing to help Shamron assassinate Tariq is that he thinks, perhaps consciously, perhaps not, that it may help him get past his family tragedy. Do you think that in the end he succeeds in this? Why or why not? Gabriel feels Israel can never be his home, yet for Jacqueline (Sarah), it becomes her home and brings her a measure of peace. Why so for her and not for Gabriel?

6. Much of the action that takes place in this novel results from a mingling of extremely complicated motivations: nationalism and ideals connected with love of one's homeland and of one's family on the one hand and one's own personal success or aggrandizement or vendetta or romantic love on the other. How do these motivations mingle in the case of Shamron's plan to assassinate Tariq and rehabilitate the reputation of the Israeli secret service within Israel? What about in the case of Gabriel? Tariq? Jacqueline Delacroix?

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 258 )
Rating Distribution

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 259 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2001

    Silva Strikes Gold!

    In Daniel Silva's latest thriller, The Kill Artist, he not only continues the suspense created in The Mark Of The Assasin, he exceeds it. This book can't miss being a sure-fire smash with all readers who like international espionage thrillers; and it will keep you glued to the edge of your seat. Silva's writing style is so 'grabbing' it will make you feel that you're personally there in the middle of the action. The action is non-stop, the plot is excitng and includes several surprises, and the characters are so fully developed, you'll think you really know them. If you're looking for a book in which you can fully 'get lost', get yourself a copy of The Kill Artist as soon as you can.

    13 out of 17 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 24, 2010

    love those Allon books!

    Another great installment in the Gabriel Allon series by Silva. Definitely a suggested read!!

    7 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2007

    A reviewer

    this really is a bad book. as you can see from all the other reviews it is of poor quality. the only spy manuver Gabriel Allen actually did threw out the book was in the 5 pg when he pretened to use the phone to look for any body following him. the author is way in other his head. the action is terrible the story line is drawn out. charcters are dull, the flash backs are practically useless. the thing is you would expect a published author to know this but this genius seems to be a little slow. he makes so many mistakes in the way he uses charcters point of view its like a mix between omnipresent third person and many other point of views. trust me . i recommend this book for future novel writers like me. this way you will know what not to do. this book was literally a waste of papper. your better off reading one of those 24 declassifed books and those arent even that great.

    5 out of 36 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 30, 2006

    good book.

    nice book.but compared to spy masters like ludlum and forsyth,doesnt come close.but all the same a decent book.

    5 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2004


    I just finished my first book by Daniel Silva, The Kill Artist. It was the BEST book I have read in years! I could not put it down and was sorry when it was finished. The female lead (Sarah/Jacqueline/Dominique) reminded me so much of Charlie in Le Carre¿s Little Drummer Girl, in the way she was deceived and led to do things by duplicitous men she loved. I am now starting The Confessor and hope it is even half as good. I plan to get all his books. So thankful there is another writer whose thriller/spy novels I can look forward to getting my hands on (like Ludlum, Forsythe, Follett, etc.).

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 3, 2004

    Gripping Novel

    As an avid reader it is easy to predict the ending for many novels however Silva continues to keep you on the edge of your seat and turning pages. Nothing is ever as it seems Gabriel is a genuine character that is caught between something he believes in and trying to get on with his life. Great read.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2001

    Wanted more!

    I have just finished three of Silva's books ending with the Kill Artist. He writes sparingly and well, and the action keeps the reader tied to the book. And for those who have read his other books, there is a not so hidden moment in Kill Artist when a terrorist meets an assassin. You will like it!

    3 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted December 27, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    My 1st Silva novel & definately my last!

    Yawn! Oh, excuse me. I'm trying to get my blood flowing again after reading this snooze-fest of a Anti-terrorist novel. Silva is a bad, cliche-ridden thriller writer who has attempted to write what would be an interesting "24"/Bond-style story if it weren't for the fact all the characters are cardboard cut-outs. I wanted a break from all the Sci-fi/Fantasy I've been reading over the countless years by getting into spy/assassin thrillers & I thought Silva's first Gabriel Allon novel would do the trick. Not so.
    Israelis & Muslems complain they are portrayed as 2-D stereotypes when it comes to thrillers, so I find it surprising when a Jewish thriller writer caters to their complaints. Every character--regardless of their ethnicity, nationality or career--is a stereotype. Every situation is dull, not well thought out & a let-down for action, suspence & excitement--all key elements to a successful novel in the thriller genre. I can't believe Silva is still being published. I'd rather read an incomplete Ludlum manuscript, completed by a ghost writer than another piece of garbage by Silva. The dialogue is trite & can be found in a bad Roger Moore/Timothy Dalton/Pierce Brosnan Bond flick--it is that horrible! I'm sickened by the plot device that Yasir Arafat is a character--& he stops HIS OWN assassination with a political debate. The main character is not the one who stops the assassination plot--in fact, he is shot & taken out of action before anyone does anything to stop the terrorist.
    Do not buy this novel. It does not deserve your money($$$) or time wasted on it. Instead, buy another Ludlum novel or pick up one of Hard Case Crime's pulp fiction novels. It's time better spent.
    Daniel Silva--please stop writing & leave it to someone who knows how.

    2 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2004

    If you love espionage, this is right in your alley!

    The author developed the character of Gabriel Allon very good. I loved the scenic descriptions as well as the reference to history/facts.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 20, 2003

    The Artist

    An excellant read-silva has taken the lead as a suspense/spy thriller writer as far as I am concerned.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 11, 2002

    He's Simply the Best

    Daniel Silva burst onto the scene with the Unlikely Spy and has followed it with the Mark of the Assassin and Marching Season. Each of his novels is unique in setting, characters and plot. What remains consistant is his thought, pace and intrigue. He is quite simply the best thriller writer today!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 29, 2001

    Silva proves he is still a pro...

    Gabriel Allon is ¿the Kill Artist¿; a former assassin who worked clandestinely for the Israeli government. When we first meet him he is living in a remote English seaside village and working as an art restorer, a cover he used frequently during his covert operations. He is soon called out of retirement by his former boss, Ari Shamron, head of Israeli intelligence, and a calculating man with his own that may cost Gabriel his life. Ari needs Gabriel¿s talents to track down Tariq, an Palestinian assassin whose killing rampage is threatening the Middle East peace negotiations. Tariq and Gabriel have met before when Gabriel killed Tariq¿s brother in a very brutal manner, and Tariq avenged that death with a killing of his own...Gabriel¿s wife and son, making this a story of international intrigue and personal revenge. The stage is now set for a major showdown, but they must first cover three continents and weave through an array of cultures and characters to find each other. Gabriel is assisted by his former intelligence co-worker, a beautiful French girl named Jacqueline, whose family was killed in the Holocaust. Jacqueline is hesitant to join Gabriel on this assignment, but in the end it is love that prevails, and she plunges head first into Tariq¿s lair, a deadly trap that Gabriel may not be able to get her out of in time to save her life. What I love about Daniel Silva is his smooth and uncomplicated style. He has a 'rhythm' to his writing that hooks you somewhere in the beginning and stays with you long after you finish the book. It took me a little longer to warm up to these characters, probably because there isn¿t a lot happening in the way of relationships as there is in his other book _The Mark Of The Assassin_. Everyone is hiding behind their own specific job and agenda. They¿re all business. Still, the plot is riveting and the pace is solid. 4 and 1/2 stars. Highly recommended. His protagonist doesn¿t quite involve the readers as in his past works but this is definitely worth a buy.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2013


    Predictable and slow. I felt like it would never end, and it's only 333 pages. Save your money.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 17, 2001


    Daniel Silva has done it again. His fourth book is an engrosssing story of murder and intrigue. I could not put it down. I took this book everywhere with me , in the off chance I'd have a free second to read a few pages. The story flows brilliantly with a surprise twist at the end that I never saw coming. One trait that I like about Silva's novels is the way he sneaks characters from previous novels into the present. For instance, in this book, Douglas Cannon from the Marching Season, makes a cameo. I highly reccommend this book to anyone who enjoys a fast paced thriller.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2014


    She chuckled and wandered out herself.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2014


    "This place is full of stupidity." He vanishes.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 22, 2014


    Cira watched Pedro...

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  • Posted August 7, 2014

    ¿The Kill Artist¿ paints a nice picture (so to speak).  The stor

    “The Kill Artist” paints a nice picture (so to speak).  The story give the back story of Israeli spy, Gabriel Allon, and then follows his on what is supposed to be his final mission. The story has good plot and character development and some intrigue (even a nice twist at the end) but is very short on thrills and action.  Overall a nice story but if you’re looking for rock’em sock’em action you may want to look elsewhere.

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  • Posted July 22, 2014

    Dan Silva continually gets stronger as his Gabriel Allon series

    Dan Silva continually gets stronger as his Gabriel Allon series moves along. Perhaps his writing muscles are reaching their peak potential, but I rather think his knowledge of the lead character has brought him to a point where the story propels forward personally. This engages us, as we too get to care for our art restorer-spy, the one whose painful troubled past both threatens and enables him to face his present. A definite must read. Now on to the next one!

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  • Posted April 9, 2014

    Well written, page turner, twist and turns everywhere!! My first

    Well written, page turner, twist and turns everywhere!! My first Daniel Silva book, but not my last!!!

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