I'd rate this thriller a 4 1/2-5 star read. The second book in Silva's excellent Gabriel Allon series was a terrific read. Allon, an art restorer who works with Israeli intelligence discovers the body of a very rich man who had hired him to restore an expensive painting. This body starts an adventure that twists and turns in the world of Swiss banking and involves art looted by the Nazis during WWII. I found this a fascinating and interesting read and plan to continue and finish this series.
on July 7, 2004
Silva hooked me into this novel in the first chapter and never let up. I won't repeat the story line here; but will tell you that the twists and turns of this story will keep you turning the pages until the end.
Silva takes you through the streets of Zurich, Vienna, Paris, London, Corsica, and others in an exciting and thought provoking novel. The history concerning the stolen art by the Nazis during WWII was especially interesting. Enjoy this book.
on February 18, 2004
When an Israeli reads a book about a Mossadnik written by a foreign author, s/he tends to be somewhat doubtful about the accuracy of details in that book; Daniel Silva's research leaves one amazed as well as admiring - the book "the English Assassin" is impeccable as far as creating a truly convincing background for Gabriel Allon the protagonist- the Mossad man as well as the art restorer. Silva even went so far as to use Hebrew terms relating to Mossad (the Israeli secret service) terminology, some of them familiar almost solely to Hebrew speakers, terms he clearly and accurately explains to his English readers, terms which add credibility and enriches the atmosphere he is so successfully creates in this book.
When an art curator reads the book, again s/he can only admire, once again the minute details which add other layers of meaning and volume to this book.
The main characters: Allon, Shamron, Anna Rolf, Gerhardt Peterson and the Englishman (as this character is referred to through out most of the book) -
All of them are three-dimensional beings with goals, desires and above all acute professionalism! Each one of these people takes genuine pride in what they do for a living, even if their job is the kind usually frowned upon.
For various reasons the genre of the thriller has been considered (at times rightly so) to be beneath other literary genres, Daniel Silva's writing might help this genre gain back some of the respect it lost.
on June 17, 2004
I had never heard of Daniel Silva nor seen any of his works until I walked into my local library about a week ago and saw this novel. I decided it sounding like the kind of books I tend to enjoy and I found it was a book that I plan on adding to my massive book collection very soon.
The English Assassin is no Dan Brown book to be sure and it was never intended to be marketed that way, especially since it was published long before The DaVinci Code. The plot twists in the book were amazing along with the description of various cities, paintings, and history of World War II to present day. Silva weaves a wonderful thriller novel together with several story arcs at the beginning that converge at the end of the novel to really leave a zinging ending. This is one of the better books I have read and the intensive look at foreign policy and diplomacy that must have been done prior to this novel definately shows.
on March 29, 2004
I am now amazed at how Daniel Silva's book entrance me every time I pick them up to read. I love his WORK! It is like I am truly seeing life in whatever viewpoint/nationality/political group that he writes about. Very GOOD stuff! I would HATE to take his books to Aruba-I would be hard pressed to leave the hotel for reading or leave HIS books at home so that I could enjoy Aruba! (laughter) EXCELLENT WORK, Daniel!
on July 31, 2009
As most international spy vs spy intrigue type thrillers are wont to do, Daniel Silva's latest thriller, "The English Assassin", moves from locale to locale across Europe with rather dizzying speed.
Silva's underlying premise to the story is the fact that Switzerland, while claiming neutrality during WW II, was actually considerably less than a mere sideline observer to the proceedings of the war. Indeed, it appears that not only were they willing participants in Nazi Germany's veritable raping and pillaging of galleries, personal collections, museums, churches and public buildings of the priceless art treasures they contained, but they were also private bankers and money laundering agents for the senior members of the Nazi elite. The aristocratic families of the Swiss banking oligarchy, having become unimaginably wealthy through this illicit relationship, will now do almost anything to prevent a modern world from exposing their sordid history and forcing the return of the ill-gotten art treasures and the related wealth to their rightful owners.
Gabriel Allon, one of the world's foremost art restorers (and, coincidentally, a member of the Israeli Secret Service) has been commissioned to restore a Raphael painting belonging to Swiss banker, Augustus Rolfe. When he arrives at Rolfe's home, he is shocked to discover that Rolfe has been brutally murdered and that he is the number one suspect in the crime. The Swiss police are unable to make the charges stick and when Allon is released with orders to leave the country and never return, he vows to investigate to discover who was responsible for such an obvious set-up and (you'll pardon the pun) frame job!
He returns undercover to Switzerland seeking to question Rolfe's daughter, Anna, a world famous violinist, and, as Sherlock Holmes put it so very often, the game was afoot! Allon and Rolfe are now the targets of a shadowy assassin hired by a secretive Swiss cabal of bankers who intend to ensure that the secrets of WW II remain locked in Swiss vaults and safe from prying outside eyes!
In Gabriel Allon, Daniel Silva has created a memorable hero with significant colour and depth that fans will want to follow further. In this particular story, the clever pairing of a reclusive art restorer with a moody, temperamental, world class concert violinist allows for an extremely interesting exploration of the arts world in Europe, from both historical and current points of view. While not quite at the level of travelogue, Silva's attention to detail in placing his action in various European cities provides an extra dose of reality and interest to a plot that is already quite satisfying.
"The English Assassin" is certainly more than workmanlike and, while I enjoyed it, I thought it less than spectacular. The genre of intrigue thrillers is a crowded one, indeed, and while it benefits from Silva's addition, "The English Assassin" is not a standout such as Ken Follett's "Eye of the Needle" or Jack Higgin's "The Eagle Has Landed".
on February 25, 2004
Gabriel Allon is an art restorer living in England. He is also a highly trained Israeli agent used by the Foreign Ministry headed by his boss Ariel Shamron. Allon is asked to restore a painting in the home of a prominent Swiss resident in Zurich. Unfortunately, upon arrival, Allon finds his host dead on the floor. As Allon looks into the death, he eventually begins to uncover a sinister plot involving prominent Swiss businessmen throughout the country. In an effort to discover the cause of her father's death, Allon is accompanied by Anna Rolphe, the victim's daughter and a world-class concert violinist. Always behind them is the English assassin who eventually sets his sites on Anna.
I have often said that Daniel Silva is one of the best thriller writers currently working. After having discovered his books several years ago, I have eagerly awaited each one as they are released in the spring. Silva has a prodigious way of drawing the reader immediately into the story by use of vivid characterizations, dangerous situations, and exotic locations. Some time is, of course, required to fill in details of the plot which can admittedly be a bit complex, however, never as complex as so many of Robert Ludlum's books. They are easy to grasp which is important considering these books are not meant to require a great deal of brain cells while being read. The story flows smoothly and the suspense never lets up. Again, I strongly urge the reader to check out the work of this new master of the international thriller sub genre.
on January 8, 2004
Atonement for the past has always been, at the very least, a major secondary theme in Daniel Silvaï¿½s novels. However, in this case, he has raised it to the front and center major theme of the novel. That theme, along with plenty of very detailed history lessons combine to make this novel at times an interesting, if overall very slow moving, read.
Gabriel Allon is still doing occasional spy work for the unnamed Israeli Spy Agency as well as still restoring art works. He works for Julian Isherwood, an art dealer with a rather fatal affliction for an art dealer. Julian hates to sell any of the artwork that grace his walls and as such, if one is sold, falls into an incredible depression. He too seems to work at times for the unnamed Israeli Spy Agency but the lines are less clear than that with Gabriel. Julian tells Gabriel he has been contacted in a rather roundabout way, not unusual in the murky art world according to Julian, and has been asked to send Gabriel to Zurich, Switzerland to restore a painting. While restoring art is the one thing that gives Gabriel peace and allows him to live with himself, he is less that thrilled with the idea of going to Switzerland, especially under such strange circumstances.
Gabriel eventually agrees and when he arrives at the home where he is to restore the painting, discovers a dead man on the floor. Gabriel has killed in the past on behalf of the Israeli Spy Agency and canï¿½t afford to report his finding to the Police. He flees the scene and attempts to flee the country, before being picked up by the Swiss Police. Gabriel learns from the Police that the dead man was a very wealthy Swiss banker (among other things), Augustus Rolfe and while the Police canï¿½t prove he did it, they know of another killing he most definitely committed on their soil.
Soon, Shamron, Gabrielï¿½s spy boss, learns of the arrest and is forced to make a deal to have Gabriel released. Shamron arranges for Gabrielï¿½s release and freedom for him to leave the country contingent on his never returning to Switzerland and in exchange, wants and demands Gabrielï¿½s help.
ï¿½ï¿½Listen to me, Gabriel!ï¿½ Shamron slammed his fist onto the console. ï¿½Augustus Rolfe, a Swiss banker, wanted to speak to us and for that he was murdered. I want to know what Rolfe was going to tell us, and I want to know who killed him for it!ï¿½ï¿½
Shamron gets what he wants when Gabriel reluctantly agrees to help. This action brings him into the sights of an assassin only known as ï¿½The Englishman.ï¿½ The assassin works for a powerful group of Swiss businessman and financiers who want to keep secret the fact that the Swiss actively collaborated with and funded the Nazi war machine and have retained not only the monetary profits of such actions but the millions of pieces of artwork looted by the Naziï¿½s has they rolled over Europe.
Interspersed frequently with very detailed history lessons, ï¿½The Englishmanï¿½ and Gabriel Allon play a cat and mouse game across Europe with the stolen artwork just part of the problem. Between them, like a prize bird in a cage, is Anna Rolfe, a trouble woman who is also a brilliant concert violinist. While she knows nothing of her fatherï¿½s dark legacy she very well may lose her life because of it.
While this is by no mans Daniel Silvaï¿½s best work, it is better that most of the so-called thrillers on the market today which does not say much for the market today. The action is much more limited than in his previous works but at the same time fits the stereotypical characters as written. At the same time, this is the same kind of situation that has been beaten to death in the past and it is somewhat disappointing to read yet another book on the same subject. Instead of preaching lessons told better elsewhere, it would have behooved Mr. Silva to look for inspiration elsewhere and hopefully, now that this particular novel is out of his system, he will return to what made him worth reading in the first place.
on July 1, 2003
This is a first-rate thriller about a mixture of cultures
and time periods, as an art-restorer/Israeli agent is sent to
Switzerland to restore a fine old master for an aging Swiss
banker, only to find him shot dead in the middle of a very
secret inner vault that is also very empty of paintings.
Before the restorer can get away, he is nabbed by the Swiss
federal police and subjected to a very detailed questioning
that raise questions themselves. The restorer, then in the
guise of an Israeli agent, then has to meet up with the
reclusive, but brilliant violinist who is the dead banker's
daughter, and the fun begins.
While those two are fencing with each other about the dead
banker and his secrets, they bump into much larger secrets,
including those of the relationship between the Third Reich
and the Swiss government and their closed banking society
during the WWII period, and they discover that the secrets
of that era continue onto modern Switzerland.
But as the restorer, Gabriel, tracks backward in time to learn
just what the old banker had hidden in his inner vault, he
bumps into "The English Assassin" who has started killing off
Garbiel's contacts and informants.
This thriller does a nice job of presenting complex questions
and moving the mystery forward at a nice pace. In addition,
the author intervweaves considerable mystery about the real,
historical association between Nazi leaders of the '30s and '40s
and various leaders and bankers of Switzerland of that era, as
well as some considerable efforts by the present Swiss authorities to cover up that prior association. He presents
information suggesting the Swiss cooperated with known Nazi
war criminals and murderers for the sake of plain profit, and
his foray into history is at least as interesting as his fictional conflict.
The author does a very credible job of handling all the mysteries and characters; he makes them interesting and real,
and the reader will definitely want to keep reading to learn
how everything turns out.
The only reason we might not rate this as a "5-star" read is
the overly-convenient ending that has long-time enemies, and
their masters, suddenly, and without good reason, working
toward the same goals and adopting a "forgive and forget" approach to basis of their animosities. So the ending is a
bit too slick and easy, but, nonetheless, this is a good story
and well worth reading.
on June 14, 2003
The "English Assassin" was my introduction to author Daniel Silva, and to his art restorer cum Israeli spy, Gabriel Allon. This intelligently written, international espionage thriller, filled with intrigue and vengeance, is as good is it gets. Mr. Silva's style is reminiscent, but not derivative, of Ken Follett, Frederick Forsyth and John LeCarre. He is definitely in their league and oh, so original, with his 21st century relevant storyline. I have waited for a long time for an author of this caliber to appear and keep me on the edge of my seat, reading through the night. I was unable to put this book down.
Gabriel Allon is a brilliant Israeli art restorer, residing in Cornwall, England. He is a complex, melancholy man - not much humor here. Allon had worked for many years as an Israeli intelligence agent, and assassin, (when necessary), losing his young son and wife to violence as a consequence of his work. Now he just wants to restore paintings and be left alone with his torment and his guilt.
Allon is coerced back to active spy duty when he is asked to go to Zurich to clean the work of an Old Master for a Swiss millionaire banker. He arrives at his clients house only to find the man dead at his feet - murdered, obviously. Allon has too much of a history in Switzerland to call the police, so he attempts to flee the country. He is caught within a half hour, (pretty fast, even for the Swiss), and framed for the murder. Thus begins a chain of events that pairs Allon with the dead banker's beautiful, violin virtuoso daughter, as they seek the killer and the motive. Their search takes them all over Europe, where they begin to uncover secrets dealing with Nazi art theft, international conspiracy, priceless hidden treasures buried in Swiss vaults, a decade-old suicide, multiple murders, and a very mysterious English assassin. This assassin fellow is one of my favorite villains - and his Corsican friends are just too much!
Mr. Silva's characters are believable and fascinating. His plots and subplots are beautifully developed and gripping; his historical detail is on the money. What more could you ask for in a novel? I cannot wait to get my hands on more of his books. Hopefully when I catch-up and read what I have missed, Mr. Silva will have written another winner.