Daniel Silva’s novels are crisp with action that moves from one European city to another, and enriched with bizarre characters. In this new book The Heist, there is a disgraced British spy, a one-eyed Italian police chief, a skilful art thief, and a professional killer from Corsica. (And these are the goodies!) Plus Silva’s main character: Gabriel Allon, an art restorer from Venice, whose part-time work as an assassin began with successfully tracking down the killers of the Jewish athletes at the Munich Olympics.
Now a brutal Middle Eastern dictator has stolen a famous painting and Gabriel is entrusted with its recovery. He enlists the help of Viktor Orlov, a rich Russian who gave up Communism, and these days, by predilection, lives in London’s exclusive Cheyne Walk. He also recruits Syrian born Jihan Nawaz; she works for a private bank in Munich which Gabriel must infiltrate. Suspense and non-stop action is Daniel Silva’s recipe in this engrossing novel of a missing masterpiece.
Silva says in his author’s note this is a work of entertainment, to be read as nothing more. But there is far more to say about The Heist, and its author. That a thriller writer of at least seventeen novels can write with moments of such warmth and feeling is what impresses me about Daniel Silva. When he refers to a ruined building used as a refuge for Jews in wartime Venice, and its new purpose as a rest home for the aged, the writing is imbued with a deep empathy. And in his compassion and care for the safety of the Syrian girl, “The Child of Hama”, as he calls her, who helps him despite being afraid, is what makes this “work of entertainment” an unexpected and rewarding book.
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