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Portrait of a SpyA Novel
By Daniel Silva
HarperCollinsCopyright © 2011 Daniel Silva
All right reserved.
Chapter OneThe Lizard Peninsula, Cornwall
It was the Rembrandt that solved the mystery once and
for all. Afterward, in the quaint shops where they did their
marketing and the dark little seaside pubs where they did their
drinking, they would chide themselves for having missed the telltale
signs, and they would share a good natured laugh at some of
their more outlandish theories about the true nature of his work.
Because in their wildest dreams there was not one among them
who ever considered the possibility that the taciturn man from
the far end of Gunwalloe Cove was an art restorer, and a world
famous art restorer at that.
He was not the first outsider to wander down to Cornwall with
a secret to keep, yet few had guarded theirs more jealously, or with
more style and intrigue. A case in point was the peculiar manner
in which he had secured lodgings for himself and his beautiful but
much younger wife. Having chosen the picturesque cottage at the
edge of the cliffsby all accounts, sight unseenhe had paid
the entire twelve-month lease in advance, with all the paperwork
handled discreetly by an obscure lawyer in Hamburg. He settled
into the cottage a fortnight later as if he were conducting a raid
on a distant enemy outpost. Those who met him during his first
forays into the village were struck by his notable lack of candor.
He seemed to have no nameat least not one he was willing to
shareand no country of origin that any of them could place.
Duncan Reynolds, thirty years retired from the railroad and
regarded as the worldliest of Gunwalloe's residents, described him as
"a cipher of a man" while other reviews ranged from "standoffish"
to "unbearably rude." Even so, all agreed that, for better or worse,
the little west Cornish village of Gunwalloe had become a far more
With time, they were able to establish that his name was
Giovanni Rossi and that, like his beautiful wife, he was of Italian
descent. Which made it all the more curious when they began
to notice government-issue cars filled with government-issue men
prowling the streets of the village late at night. And then there
were the two blokes who sometimes fished the cove. Opinion was
universal that they were the worst fishermen anyone had ever seen.
In fact, most assumed they were not fishermen at all. Naturally, as
is wont to happen in a small village like Gunwalloe, there began
an intense debate about the true identity of the newcomer and the
nature of his worka debate that was finally resolved by Portrait
of a Young Woman, oil on canvas, 104 by 86 centimeters, by
Rembrandt van Rijn.
Precisely when it arrived would never be clear. They
assumed it was sometime in mid-January because that was when
they noticed a dramatic change in his daily routine. One day he
was marching along the rugged cliff tops of the Lizard Peninsula
as though wrestling with a guilty conscience; the next he
was standing before an easel in his living room, a paintbrush
in one hand, a palette in the other, and opera music blasting so
loudly you could hear the wailing clear across Mount's Bay in
Marazion . Given the proximity of his cottage to the Coastal
Path, it was possibleif one paused in just the right spot, mind
you, and craned one's neck at just the right angleto see him in
his studio. At first, they assumed he was working on a painting
of his own. But as the weeks ground slowly past, it became clear
he was involved in the craft known as conservation or, more
commonly, as restoration.
"Hell's that mean?" Malcolm Braithwaite, a retired lobster man
who smelled perpetually of the sea, asked one evening at the Lamb
and Flag pub.
"It means he's fixing the bloody thing," said Duncan Reynolds.
"A painting is like a living, breathing thing. When it gets old, it
flakes and sagsjust like you, Malcolm."
"I hear it's a young girl."
"Pretty," said Duncan, nodding his head. "Cheeks like apples.
She looks positively edible."
"Do we know the artist?"
"Still working on that."
And work on it they did. They consulted many books, searched
many sites on the Internet, and sought out people who knew more
about art than they dida category that included most of the
population of West Cornwall. Finally, in early April, Dottie Cox from
the village store screwed up the nerve to simply ask the beautiful
young Italian woman about the painting when she came into town
to do her marketing. The woman evaded the question with an
ambiguous smile. Then, with her straw bag slung over her shoulder,
she sauntered back down to the cove, her riotous dark hair tossed
by the springtime wind. Within minutes of her arrival, the wailing
of the opera ceased and the window shades of the cottage fell like
They remained tightly closed for the next week, at which
point the restorer and his beautiful wife disappeared without
warning. For several days, the residents of Gunwalloe feared
they might not be planning to return, and a few actually berated
themselves for having snooped and pried into the couple's
private affairs. Then, while leafing through the Times one
morning at the village store, Dottie Cox noticed a story from
Washington , D.C., about the unveiling of a long-lost portrait
by Rembrandt a portrait that looked precisely like the one that
had been in the cottage at the far end of the cove. And thus the
mystery was solved.
Coincidentally, that same edition of the Times contained a
front-page article about a series of mysterious explosions at four
secret Iranian nuclear facilities. No one in Gunwalloe imagined
there might be any connection. At least not yet.
The restorer was a changed man when he came back from America;
they could see that. Though he remained guarded in his personal
encountersand he was still not the sort you would want to
surprise in the darkit was obvious a great burden had been lifted
from his shoulders. They saw a smile on his angular face every
now and again, and the light emitted by his unnaturally green eyes
seemed a shade less defensive. Even his long daily walks had a
different quality. Where once he had pounded along the footpaths
like a man possessed, he now seemed to float atop the mist-covered
cliffs like an Arthurian spirit who had come home after a long time
in a distant land.
"Looks to me as if he's been released from a sacred vow,"
observed Vera Hobbs, owner of the village bakeshop. But when
asked to venture a guess as to what that vow might have been, or
to whom he had sworn it, she refused. Like everyone else in town,
she had made a fool of herself trying to divine his occupation.
"Besides," she advised, "it's better to leave him in peace. Otherwise,
the next time he and his pretty wife leave the Lizard, it might be
Indeed, as that glorious summer slowly faded, the restorer's
future plans became the primary preoccupation of the entire village.
With the lease on the cottage running out in September, and with
no tangible evidence he was planning to renew it, they embarked on
a covert effort to persuade him to stay. What the restorer needed,
they decided, was something to keep him tethered to the Cornish
coasta job that utilized his unique set of skills and gave him
something to do other than walk the cliffs. Exactly what that job
might entail, and who would give it to him, they had no idea, but
they entrusted to themselves the delicate task of trying to find it.
After much deliberation, it was Dottie Cox who finally hit upon
the idea of the First Annual Gunwalloe Festival of Fine Arts, with
the famous art restorer Giovanni Rossi serving as honorary chairman.
She made the suggestion to the restorer's wife the following
morning when she popped into the village store at her usual time.
The woman actually laughed for several minutes. The offer was
flattering, she said after regaining her composure, but she didn't
think it was the sort of thing Signor Rossi would agree to. His
official rejection came soon after, and the Gunwalloe Festival of
Fine Arts quietly withered on the vine. It was no matter; a few
days later, they learned that the restorer had taken the cottage for
another year. Once again, the lease was paid in full, with all the
paperwork handled by the same obscure lawyer in Hamburg.
With that, life returned to something like normal. They would
see the restorer in mid-morning when he came to the village with
his wife to do their marketing, and they would see him again in
mid-afternoon when he hiked along the cliff tops in his Barbour
coat and his flat cap pulled low over his brow. And if he failed
to give them a proper greeting, they took no offense. And if he
seemed uneasy about something, they gave him room to work it
out on his own. And if a stranger came to town, they tracked his
every move until he was gone. The restorer and his wife might
have come from Italy originally, but they belonged to Cornwall
now, and heaven help the fool who ever tried to take them
There were, however, some on the Lizard who believed there
was more to the storyand one man in particular who believed he
knew what it was. His name was Teddy Sinclair, owner of a rather
good pizzeria in Helston and a subscriber to conspiracy theories
large and small. Teddy believed the moon landings were a hoax.
Teddy believed 9/11 was an inside job. And Teddy believed the
man from Gunwalloe Cove was hiding more than a secret ability
to heal paintings.
To prove his case once and for all, he summoned the villagers to
the Lamb and Flag on the second Thursday of November and
unveiled a chart that looked a bit like the periodic table of elements.
It purported to establish, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the
explosions at the Iranian nuclear facilities were the work of a
legendary Israeli intelligence officer named Gabriel Allonand that
the same Gabriel Allon was now living peacefully in Gunwalloe
under the name Giovanni Rossi. When the laughter finally died
down, Duncan Reynolds called it the dumbest thing he'd heard
since some Frenchman decided that Europe should have a common
currency. But this time Teddy stood his ground, which in hindsight
was the right thing to do. Because Teddy might have been
wrong about the moon landings, and wrong about 9/11, but when
it came to the man from Gunwalloe Cove, his theory was in every
The next morning, Remembrance Day, the village woke to the
news that the restorer and his wife had disappeared. In a panic,
Vera Hobbs hurried down to the cove and peered through the
windows of the cottage. The restorer's supplies were scattered across
a low table, and propped on the easel was a painting of a nude
woman stretched upon a couch. It took Vera a moment to realize
that the couch was identical to the one in the living room, and
that the woman was the same one she saw each morning in her
bakeshop. Despite her embarrassment, Vera couldn't seem to summon
the will to look away, because it happened to be one of the
most strikingly beautiful paintings she had ever seen. It was also
a very good sign, she thought as she headed back to the village. A
painting like that was not the sort of thing a man left behind when
he was making a run for it. Eventually, the restorer and his wife
would come back. And heaven help that bloody Teddy Sinclair if
Excerpted from Portrait of a Spy by Daniel Silva Copyright © 2011 by Daniel Silva. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Meet the Author
DANIEL SILVA is the #1 New York Timesbestselling author of The Unlikely Spy, The Mark of the Assassin, The Marching Season, The Kill Artist, The English Assassin, The Confessor, Prince of Fire, A Death in Vienna, The Messenger, The Secret Servant, Moscow Rules, The Defector and The Rembrandt Affair. 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.
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Gabriel Allon comes out of retirement when he sees a man behaving strangely in Covent Garden then realizes he is about to blow himself to bits along with everyone else. The plot never ends with intrigue and Silva has a phenomenal way of keeping the reader's interested all the time. Allon and his team are back and must infiltrate a terrorist group intent on attacking the west. The author does a brilliant job with detail. He must have done a lot of research for this book. The author sets the stage with a series of events that are eerily familiar to all of us right now, countries all over the world are teetering on the brink of fiscal disaster, Europe is having difficulty and Bin Laden is dead, but others are scrambling to take his place. The author is amazing at how quickly he managed to include all of these recent facts in his book. Maybe he should run for president. This book has powerful content full of self-sacrifice, deception and betrayal that will consume you.
Yes, he's a fictional character but somewhere out there is a real Gabriel Allon, reading Daniel Silva's new book and smiling sardonically to himself as he turns each magical page which, in the end, reveals the real heroes of the free world - the spies within the spy machine called Mossad... In his latest book, Portrait of a Spy,Daniel Silva has once again captured the very essence of Gabriel Allon, an art restorer and reluctant spy who saves the free world. He and his team of spies are at it again, fighting in the shadows for justice and protection of the innocent. The newest team "member" is one who operates among her own people to secure not only the safety of Israel but to prevent the fanatics from destroying freedom in her own sphere of influence - the Arab world. Her burning desire is to right the wrongs of her father, a terrorist who died at the hands of Gabriel Allon. As the story unfolds, she is fierce and fearless in this pursuit and the reader is left in awe of such sacrifice. You might brush this off as a work of fiction. However, through detailed research, interviews, travel and countless hours of hard work, Daniel Silva has once again brought the foundation of truth to his fiction that few writers are capable of doing, thus giving his reader facts based on the reality of the world of intrigue and deception. His characters leap from the page because they are prototypes of real people Silva has spent time with and who have shared with him the realities of the world of the Israeli spy. As for his writing style, it is my opinion that Daniel Silva is one of the best writers of our generation. When mere mortals describe rain simply as just that in their novels ("It was raining that day", etc.), Daniel Silva refers to it as "prickly rain", giving the reader a sense of walking the street with Gabriel and actually feeling the raindrops on your skin as you immerse yourself in the novel. His characters have depth of feeling, emotions that are raw and they themselves seem to step out of the page and into your living room as you are reading. The reality is that the world out there is indeed a frightening place. Daniel Silva, through his writings, entertains but more importantly gives us hope that there are people out there who are brave, courageous, and do not rejoice in their victories but are torn between loyalty to country and taking human lives for the purpose of protecting the innocent. I for one sleep easier at night knowing that there are Gabriel Allons out there who care about the way the world is heading and is bent on stopping the madness. Keep writing, Daniel!
Art restorer Gabriel Allon and his wife, Chiara look forward to the weekend in London. They will visit St. James's where he will authenticate a potentially phenomenal find, a painting by Titian. Afterward they will enjoy the city.----------------------- However, the day is ruined die to suicide bombings on the Champs-Elysees left twenty-eight dead in Paris and in Tivoli Gardens killed thirty-seven in Copenhagen. On alert Allon notices a man acting strange near Covent Garden and wonders if this is another terrorist attack. He goes to intercede, but undercover officers knock him to the ground before he can shoot the suspect and consequently in time for the explosion to affirm what he thought. Despondent Gabriel goes to Cornwall until the CIA asks him to find an American cleric with grandiose schemes to outdo Bin Laden.--------------------- Though anti-terrorism field work should be a young man's game, no one will mind Allon working the cold as he struggles with the deaths of eighteen innocents due to the reaction of the cops after the tragic Menezes fiasco. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Allon spots the suicide bomber and never slows down as he hunts for the cleric. With insight into the competition to reach the minds of potential second generation home grown terrorists, Daniel Silva provides another powerful thriller as readers anticipate a showdown between the cleric and the art restorer.--------- Harriet Klausner
I never used to read fiction and I'm not sure what motivated me to pick up a Daniel Silva book but I've now read several. They've all been excellent and "Portrait of a Spy" is the best yet. I love the Gabriel Allon series. If you like suspenseful thrillers this is a must read. It's also impressive how Silva ties this book in with current events. I highly, highly recommend this book!! Can't wait for the next one.
Please review the content of the book only please, not the price. When I read a review i want to know what peope think about the book, not read about people complaining. A review is to give your opinion about the content of a book, not complain about price. That said, this is an excellent book. Full of suspense it is one of those novels that is hard to put down to get some sleep. I just wanted to keep reading. Highly recommend.
This was my first Daniel Silva book that I have read. I really enjoyed it, well written and suspenseful.
Gabriel Allon has retired. Again. But not for long. Europe explodes with three suicide bombers in three cities timed to refer to the incidents of September 11, 2001. Gabriel is asked by his unusually moody friend Adrian Carter to intervene against a terrorist threat that the CIA inadvertently created. An American Islamist cleric is intent upon making himself the next Osama bin Laden. With the legendary Ari Shamron's reluctant approval, Gabriel recruits the one person from his past that a reader might think would never speak--let alone work--with him. Together, they set out to attack a terrorist organization from the inside using--what else?--art. The action moves from the cities of Europe to the wastelands of the Saudi Arabian desert. The story is cast against the still-to-be-resolved revolution of the "Arab Spring." Silva allows his strong characters speak for themselves. At the end, success--of a sort--is achieved, recognition is granted and just enough details are left dangling for the reader to ask, "Okay, what's next?"
I must say this was an excellent book. Without going into details about the plot, I preferred it to his previous book (Rembrandt), although I liked that one as well. I appreciate that Allon isn't ever portrayed as some slick, unfeeling assassin that continually moves up the ladder of his intelligence agency, or gains more fame with each book. Instead, we are able to see more aspects of his life, his personality, and how he reacts to different situations. And for the record, I went and borrowed this at the public library. For those who are complaining about Nook prices, y'all do realize that Borders went out of business for several reasons, but one of them was the emergence of the e-book market. Be happy that e-books even exist, and that bookstores still do need to make money, otherwise, there would be no more books. You want free reading? Go read a blog, or go to the library like I did. Otherwise, be prepared to pay some money.
Usual suspense from Silva with some unusual twists. Highly recommend
Set in the middle of today's current events, Silva returns with a masterful story. For those of us who follow the tales of Gabriel Allon, it is truly sweet reunion with a story that never stops. For anyone unfamiliar with this series, this is a good entree into it. The back story of the characters were less important than in other stories. The story starts quickly and never slows down. Well worth waiting for!!
The book was well-written- although not enough room to flesh out the characters. I find it difficult to read fiction that is based on current history. Might as well watch the news.
I agree complain elsewhere about your pocketbook! The writer D. Silva is amazing and what he has accomplished with the Allon series is unbelievable ...I am captivated by each book and in anticipation of the next. Don't ever stop writing about Gabriel he has become apart of your fans lives the way this character jumps off the page and takes you with him! Thank you Daniel!!! And...Gabriel!
11 in a row! All great. Can't wait for the next one!
This is a fabulous series! If only Gabriel Allon were real....
I loved it! (I will also admit here that I'm a bit obsessed-have all of the Gabriel Allon series in HC,NOOK,&the first 8 in PB!) Once again, great story, LOVE Nadia (am a BIT upset with Adrian!)
I normally the Gabriel Allen boiks, however I found this went to deep about the art & the history lessons about terrorist and lacked in depth of action/plot. It was a good read but not one of his better ones. I like his ability to create suspense not to cram for a history lesson.
Chasing terrorist threats through London, Copenhagen, and Paris, Gabriel Allon is a relentless hunter, and I couldn't stop following his trail.
gabriel allon is a great spy. I enjoy all spy thrillers but this book was better than most. I can't wait to read the next book by d. silva.
Good clean assassin drama
Great book and the entire series is just as riveting. Great story line, great characters and utterly compelling. I cannot recommend enough! Barb H., Algonquin, Il
Very enjoyable read. It is sophisticated and well written.
I foujnd it hard to keep a thenames straight