The English Assassin
Putnam, March, 2002.
Hardcover, 400 pages.
Gabriel Allon is a well-known art restorer who specializes in the restoration of Old Masters. But art restoration is only one of his many talents; he is also a part-time intelligence agent for the Israeli government. His latest assignment sends him to Zurich to restore a painting for a wealthy banker. When Gabriel arrives at the home, he is given the access codes to the security system and told to go inside. He discovers the body of the murdered banker under the Old Master, and immediately realizes that he is being framed for the killing. As he sets out to find the real killer, Gabriel discovers a number of people who will do anything to stop his investigation. His enquiries lead him to a multitude of shameful secrets about the Swiss people's cooperation with the Nazis in World War II. As events spin out of control, Gabriel realizes that he has another enemy: a brilliant assassin that he actually helped train, known only as The Englishman.
Daniel Silva is one of the most promising authors in the spy genre to come along since Le Carre. He takes a familiar subject, the rape of Europe's art treasures by the Nazis and the Swiss cooperation in the crime, and gives it new life. Gabriel himself is a mass of contradictions: he is an expert assassin who is trained to take life, yet he is an incredibly skilled artisan who restores some of the world's most valuable treasures. Silva's prose is crisp and clean, and his pacing is excellent, as are his characterizations. Highly recommended.
--Claire E. White
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