My rating: 4 of 5 stars
In this latest entry in Silva’s Allon saga, Gabriel and wife Chiara have hidden themselves away on a remote cliff in Cornwall, recovering from his last clandestine operation in Russia. Gabriel has no intention of coming out of retirement, but the murder of a fellow art restorer, and the theft of the masterpiece he was working on, bring him back into business as usual. What transpires is a full blown investigation replete with international arms dealings and the repercussions of Nazi war crimes. And the world is once again on the brink of nuclear threat.
Silva also brings to light the incredible, truly chilling role played by supposedly tolerant, peaceful Switzerland in preventing Holocaust victims from recovering stolen property and money. What he does best is recount his characters’ stories, both happy and tragic, in such a way that they seem to be real living persons. The complications in this plot are provocative, seemingly taken from last night’s newspaper headlines. Overall, however, most of the books about Allon follow fundamentally the same lines, and the narrative extols Gabriel’s professional virtues to the point where he sounds like the next messiah. But Silva is a master, a very gifted writer, and the flaws inherent in this series are not serious enough to preclude reading each and every installment. ( In his afterword, he describes the sources that he used in writing Rembrandt, and he is unflinchingly pro-Israel. )