The Barnes & Noble Review
This is the third entry in Silva's espionage series (following The English Assassin and The Confessor) focused on the continuing repercussions of the Holocaust in the art world, the religious sphere, and the political arena. Gabriel Allon, a restorer of paintings and frescoes, is also an Israeli agent sent to Vienna to investigate a bombing at the Austrian Wartime Claims and Inquiries office. The case takes a bizarre personal twist when Allon learns that his mother, a concentration camp survivor, faced the sadistic Erich Radek, a notorious Nazi believed to be the perpetrator of the bombing. Newly fueled by vengeance, Allon sets off on his mission, as various assassins and spies seek to aid or hinder his purpose.
The characters in Death in Vienna are either covering up evils from the past or are motivated by revenge to throw themselves full force into the deadly game. In an author's note, Silva informs us that this novel closes his cycle of books dealing with the Holocaust. We can only hope that he returns soon with more rapid-fire, high-style thrillers.
Given a bit of research, only a very clumsy novelist could not make gripping fiction out of Nazi inhumanity, and Silva is a skillful novelist who does justice to the often heartbreaking material without exploiting it. He has performed a service with his three post-Holocaust novels, but to continue mining that vein might well have limited his growth as a writer. Silva doesn't say whether he will bring back Gabriel Allon, but if he does I hope he will use him to explore the evils of today's world, which, if not always as clear-cut as those of the Holocaust, are no less real.
The Washington Post
Indeed, Max does consult Freud after a beautiful medium is shot through the heart in a locked room, with neither a gun nor a bullet left behind. But Freud is less interested in supernatural forces than in the jokes he's collecting for a new book, and Max must apply his own wits to the investigation, which is stylishly presented and intelligently resolved against the enchanting backdrop of a city that clearly appreciates such refinements.
The New York Times
...gripping.... The grim, fateful plotting resembles the early work of John le Carre...
Silva completes his cycle of three interconnected novels (The English Assassin; The Confessor) dealing with "the unfinished business of the Holocaust" with this superbly crafted narrative of espionage and foreign intrigue. During the later stages of WWII, Sturmbannfuhrer Erich Radek's job was to erase all evidence of the Holocaust. Radek, now known as Ludwig Vogel, is chairman of the Danube Valley Trade and Investment Corporation and lives quietly in Vienna. A bombing at the Austrian Wartime Claims and Inquiries office leaves chief investigator Eli Lavon near death. Undercover Mossad agent Gabriel Allon, protagonist of the two previous novels, is ordered by Israeli spymaster Ari Shamron to ferret out the perpetrator. Allon is reluctant-he's working as an art restorer on one of Bellini's great altarpieces in Venice-but Eli is an old friend from the secret service, and duty calls. The case becomes personal when Allon, reading his mother's account of her time in the camps-"I will not tell all the things I saw. I cannot. I owe this much to the dead"-discovers that not only was Radek a sadistic monster, his mother was very nearly murdered by him. The chase is long and complex as agents from a number of international spy groups circle and harass Allon as he hunts down the infamous and still deadly Radek. Those seeking cheap thrills should look elsewhere. Action and suspense abound, but this is serious fiction with a serious purpose. Silva keeps the pressure on the reader as well as his characters as there are important lessons to be learned and vital history to be remembered. Author tour. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
This is Silva's seventh novel and the concluding volume in a trilogy featuring Gabriel Allon, an aging, lonely, and reluctant Israeli assassin and art restorer. In his latest case, an Israeli war claims office in Vienna has been bombed, innocent people are dead, and a connection is suspected between neo-Nazis and an upcoming Austrian election. While investigating the bombing, Allon finds an intensely personal link between a man who may or may not be a long-hidden Nazi war criminal and his own devastated family (Allon's mother survived the Holocaust). Along with discovering the truth behind the bombing, Allon has to confront cover-ups by the CIA and the Vatican and attempts on his own life, then deal with both an unrepentant Austrian government and stonewalling Swiss banks. As usual, Silva has crafted an exciting and complex novel. Recommended for all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/1/03.]-Robert Conroy, Warren, MI Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Silva brings his Holocaust trilogy to a close with the pursuit of an SS Sturmbahnfuhrer who's climbed to the top of the greasy pole and stayed there for 60 years. When a bomb explodes outside the office of Eli Lavon, the archaeologist who's forsaken ancient history to head Vienna's Office of Wartime Claims and Inquiry is merely sent to the hospital in a coma, but his two research assistants aren't so lucky. Sent to investigate the poisoned city where his own family was shattered by terrorists, globe-hopping, art-restoring Israeli spy Gabriel Allon (The Confessor, 2003, etc.) is approached by tearful old violinist Max Klein, who survived Auschwitz to recognize in patrician industrialist Ludwig Vogel the voice of Erich Radek, the camp supervisor who had sent his parents to their death and spared him only to serenade their compatriots as they marched toward their own. Soon after Klein tells Allon that he'd approached Lavon with his suspicions, sealing his doom, he's dead himself, an apparent suicide, leaving as an inheritance both his knowledge and his danger, since much more than Radek's own fate hinges on the fortunes of Ludwig Vogel. The Austrian right wing, never long dormant, has powerful reasons for wanting Vogel to remain undisturbed. So do Allon's sometime friends in the CIA. In his attempts to plumb the depths of Aktion 1005, the real-life Nazi plan to conceal evidence of the death camps, Allon will be putting himself in constant danger of being almost, but not quite, assassinated by a killer dubbed the Clockmaker. A muffled hero caught in lethargic intrigue that will be disturbing news for readers who haven't already heard that many Austrians are in deep denial about their wartimehistory and that American hands aren't exactly clean in the matter of rehabilitating Nazis. The most chilling section is the historical note at the end.
“Not one for cookie-cutter cheap thrills, Silva’s mastered the art of weaving provocative narrative, espionage and foreign intrigue."—Chicago Sun-Times
"A masterful and compelling tale of evil, treachery and revenge...goes to the top of the list of this year's best."—Rocky Mountain News
"A masterfully constructed tale of memory and revenge. It demonstrates that thrillers can be more than entertainment."—The Miami Herald
"[A] superbly crafted narrative of espionage and foreign intrigue."—Publishers Weekly
"A thriller that’s not content to be just a thriller, as it delves into issues involving the Holocaust and its perpetrators and survivors."—The Kansas City Star
"[A] world-class practitioner of spy fiction… Silva writes with style, economy and a sure command of the historical record…a skillful novelist who does justice to the often heartbreaking material without exploiting it."—The Washington Post Book World
"Reads like an exquisitely suspenseful chess game."—Booklist