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The Messengerby Daniel Silva
Synopses & Reviews
Gabriel Allon, art restorer and spy, has been widely acclaimed as one of the most fascinating characters in the genre and now he is about to face the greatest challenge of his life.
Allon is recovering from a grueling showdown with a Palestinian master terrorist, when a figure from his past arrives in Jerusalem. Monsignor Luigi Donati is the private secretary to His Holiness Pope Paul VII, and a man as ruthless as he is intelligent. Now, however, he has come to seek Allon's help. A young Swiss guard has been found dead in St. Peter's Basilica, and although Donati has allowed the official inquiry to determine that it is suicide, his instinct tells him that it is murder-and that his master is in grave danger. He has trusted Allon in the past, and he is the only man he trusts now.
Allon reluctantly agrees to get involved, but once he begins to investigate he concludes that Donati has every right to be concerned, as, following the trail from the heart of the Vatican to the valleys of Switzerland and beyond, he slowly unravels a conspiracy of lies and deception. An extraordinary enemy walks among them, with but one goal: the most spectacular assassination ever attempted.
Filled with remarkable characters and breathtaking double and triple turns of plot, The Messenger solidifies Silva's reputation as his generation's finest writer of international thrillers.
"Bestseller Silva continues to warrant comparisons to John le Carr, as shown by his latest thriller starring Israeli art restorer and spymaster Gabriel Allon. Ahmed bin Shafiq, a former chief of a clandestine Saudi intelligence unit, targets the Vatican for attack, in particular Pope Paul VII and his top aide, Monsignor Luigi Donati, who both appeared in Silva's previous novel, Prince of Fire. Shafiq, who now heads his own terrorist network, is allied with a militant Islamic Saudi businessman known as Zizi, a true believer committed to the destruction of all infidels. Gabriel's challenge is to infiltrate Zizi's organization, a task he assigns to a beautiful American art expert, Sarah Bancroft. Gabriel promises he'll protect her, but plans go awry, and by the end Sarah faces torture and death. While Sarah's fate is never in doubt, the way Silva resolves his plot will keep readers right where he wants them: on the edges of their seats. Author tour." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"The Washington-based spy novelist Daniel Silva is one of those lucky writers whose books were successful from the get-go. 'The Messenger,' his new novel featuring Israeli spy Gabriel Allon, is likely to be his ninth best-seller in 10 years, not only because it exhibits Silva's usual intelligence, style and research, but also because it is designed to be his most commercial novel yet. It is written... Washington Post Book Review (read the entire Washington Post review) in broad strokes, with villains more loathsome, terrorist attacks more spectacular and a plot more melodramatic than he's given us in the past. In terms of controversy, it won't hurt that his chief villain is a Saudi billionaire who finances terrorist attacks and is, in truth, a stand-in for the House of Saud itself, which 'started the fire of the global jihad movement in the first place,' Silva says. The author is quite serious in his contempt for the Saudis — and U.S. officials who are seduced by them — and yet, in an interview that accompanied the book, he jokes that he wants 'The Messenger' to be a good beach read. There is, of course, nothing wrong with a writer wanting to have it both ways. Silva spent a decade as a reporter and producer for UPI and CNN, but he always saw journalism as a preparation for writing fiction. Ten years ago, when he finished writing his first novel, 'The Unlikely Spy,' about a German spy in England during World War II, he didn't even have an agent, but the book was good enough that he soon had a prominent agent, a multibook contract, a first printing of 150,000 books and a spot on the best-seller list. His next two novels, featuring CIA agent Michael Osbourne, also did well, but Silva didn't like the CIA culture and didn't want to keep writing about it. Then one day he had an epiphany on a train from London to Paris. As he read a London newspaper, his eye fell on two related stories. One said the Israelis were cracking down on militant Palestinians. The other told how Mossad, the Israeli intelligence agency, was in chaos because of scandals. The idea of writing about an Israel intelligence agent who struggles to protect his country while also combating incompetence in the home office intrigued Silva. He proceeded to write 'The Kill Artist' (2000), which introduced Allon, an art restorer, patriot and Israeli assassin. Silva didn't intend 'The Kill Artist' as the start of a series, but after it came out, his new publisher asked him to turn Gabriel Allon into a continuing character. 'I didn't think the world was ready for a Jewish superhero,' Silva said. In fact — publishers are not always wrong — the world was ready for a Jewish superhero, and the Allon books have won worldwide popularity. At the start of 'The Messenger,' Allon gets wind of a plot to kill the pope. He manages to save the pope, but 700 people are killed when terrorists set off bombs in St. Peter's Square. This outrage, plus an attack on Allon's father figure, the legendary Israeli spymaster Ari Shamron, sends him in search of revenge. The trail leads to the jet-setting Saudi billionaire Abdul Aziz al-Bakari, better known as Zizi, who bankrolls terrorists. Because Zizi also collects art, Allon locates a 'lost' van Gogh (its history nicely described) and arranges for it to be sold to him for $85 million. Allon also recruits a beautiful American art expert, Sarah Bancroft, to become his spy in Zizi's entourage. The idea is that Allon will somehow protect her, even when she's on Zizi's yacht, but anyone with half a brain knows that good, brave, sexy Sarah will soon be in dire peril, as indeed she is: 'If you continue with these lies,' one of Zizi's henchman warns her, 'Muhammad will carve the flesh from your bones and cut off your head. Do you understand me?' Allon's efforts to save Sarah are suspenseful, and once her fate is resolved Silva uncorks another, even more dramatic climax. It's a good read, but I kept finding annoying flaws in the telling. Perhaps only a grumpy critic would complain about 'gathering darkness' being followed two pages later by 'darkening sea.' But there's also Silva's thing about good people having great eyes. Allon's lover, Chiara, has eyes 'the color of caramel and flecked with gold.' Sarah has eyes 'the color of a cloudless summer sky.' Allon himself has 'eyes the greenest Sarah had ever seen.' The thuggish Saudis, however, are stuck with eyes that are small and piggy. (I don't know about you, but if I ever come across a woman with 'gold-flecked eyes' I'll run like hell for fear of some dread disease.) These are small matters, of course. But there are larger, more basic questions that might be asked about the Allon novels. Silva seems to believe unquestioningly in Israel and its policies. By pitting Allon against fiendish terrorists and arrogant billionaires, he keeps his fictional Israeli superhero firmly on the side of the angels. But in the real world, Israel has of late been presenting a more complex, less angelic face. Readers who continue to believe in Israel's unalloyed virtue will perhaps take heart from 'The Messenger.' Those with doubts might look elsewhere for a beach read." Reviewed by Patrick Anderson, whose e-mail address is mondaythrillers(at symbol)aol.com, Washington Post Book World (Copyright 2006 Washington Post Book World Service/Washington Post Writers Group)
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"Unlike other thriller writers who rely on tricks and seemingly endless twists for effect, Silva builds suspense through realistic threats, harrowing situations, and gripping action." Library Journal
"An engrossing and beautifully written contemporary spy thriller." Booklist
"The Messenger, as with all of Silva's books, is so entertaining and well written that it can be read and enjoyed simply as a thrilling story. But for those who are searching for something deeper, the meaning is there." Philadelphia Inquirer
Allon is recovering from his grueling showdown with a Palestinian master terrorist, when terrorism comes to find him once again. An al-Qaeda suspect is killed in London, and photographs are found on his computer-photographs that lead Israeli intelligence to suspect that al-Qaeda is planning one of its most audacious attacks ever. To Allon, there is something terribly familiar about the information, something horrifyingly close--but even he does not realize how close. Urgently, he throws himself into the hunt, but there may simply not be enough of anything: enough time, enough facts, enough luck. An extraordinary enem walks among them..and he's just getting started.
The #1 national bestseller from the author of Prince of Fire
On the trail of a deadly al-Qaeda operative, Gabriel Allon returns in a spellbinding story of deception, power, and revenge by the New York Times bestselling "world-class practitioner of spy fiction" (Washington Post).
About the Author
Daniel Silva is the author of eight previous novels, most recently Prince of Fire. He lives in Washington, D.C., with his wife, NBC Today correspondent Jamie Gangel.
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