Silva’s fourth novel, “The Kill Artist,” introduced Gabriel Allon, an Israeli secret agent and the unlikely guardian of Yasir Arafat during the Oslo peace negotiations. In the three books that followed, Arafat demonstrated his appreciation by repeatedly trying to have Allon murdered. In the latest installment, the Israeli Embassy in Rome is destroyed by a Palestinian bomb, and Allon is summoned from Venice, where he poses as a world-class art restorer, to hunt down the terrorist. That the bomber also happens to moonlight as a famous French archeologist is mere coincidence. How these two could operate undetected in such gossipy professions is itself a mystery, but Silva manages to render the rest of the tense cat-and-mouse plot more credibly. Though he doesn’t disguise his (now, perhaps, obsolete) antipathy for Arafat, Silva adorns his other characters—the true believer, the spymaster, the lover—with enough fine thoughts to make them sympathetic.
Silva's latest novel to feature art restorer/Israeli agent Gabriel Allon (after 2004's A Death in Vienna) is a passionate, intelligently crafted entry that cements the series' place among today's top spy fiction. The structure is classic-the semireluctant spy, Gabriel, is pulled from his cover to hunt down terrorists who have committed a horrific crime, in this case the bombing of the Israeli embassy in Rome. The mastermind behind the bombing is French archeologist Paul Martineau, aka "Khaled, son of Sabri, grandson of Sheikh Asad. Khaled, avenger of past wrongs, sword of Palestine." Orphaned as a child after his father is killed by the Israelis, Khaled is also the adopted son of Yasir Arafat, who has now activated Khaled to wreak vengeance on his mortal enemies. Gabriel assembles a team of crack young agents and sets out to find when and where Khaled will strike next. The determined team tracks down the terrorist, but when Gabriel goes in for the kill the plot takes a stunning twist; the lives of all, plus hundreds of innocent bystanders, are threatened. Gabriel is a complex character with a rich past. His wife, Leah, is confined to a psychiatric hospital in London, mentally damaged and physically disfigured from the bombing that killed their son. He lives with the beautiful Chiara, whom he can't marry out of loyalty to Leah, even though she seems to barely know him. Silva hints at further entries in the series in which Gabriel must step up and assume new duties: "Gabriel, you are the mightiest," his former mentor tells the agent. "You're the one who defends Israel against its accusers. You're the angel of judgment-the Prince of Fire." Agent, Esther Newberg. (Feb. 22) Forecast: This series is getting better with each new entry, which should result in increasing sales. Author tour. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Following the bombing of the Israeli consulate in Rome, secret agent Gabriel Allon is called upon to track down the person responsible, a third-generation Palestinian terrorist who attacked Gabriel's family ten years earlier. In Silva's fifth and most intimate Allon tale, Gabriel is tired of the spy game and longs for solace through his cover as an Italian art restorer. Gabriel is also torn between his loyalty to his invalid wife and his love for a younger woman, between his patriotism and his devotion to art. As usual, Silva balances history, action, and moral issues quite well, with his account of the evolution of the terrorist especially gripping. Some may find the novel a bit more talky than the author's previous efforts and the conclusion somewhat perfunctory, but it is always fascinating. Guerin Barry handles the voices expertly. Recommended for popular collections. Michael Adams, CUNY Graduate Ctr. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
"[Prince of Fire] goes places readers can’t predict and then goes further. [Silva’s] plotting is ingenious."—Detroit Free Press
"[A] tense cat-and-mouse plot."—The New Yorker
"An intricate web of deceit and double-cross."—USA Today
"A story that seems ripped from the headlines...chilling suspense."—Booklist
"Silva keeps getting better."—Library Journal