Summer offers many nice things. Among them are trips to the beach, cookouts with the family, visits from old friends. It is especially nice when the visit from an old friend is one involving Gabriel Allon, the Israeli master agent created by Daniel Silva. This summer Allon drops by with a new adventure and it is all captured in the novel The Heist. This book has all the elements you love about Silva's writing - his way with a plot, his incomparable characters, and the range of emotions he piles into his pages.
This time out Allon is still working as an art restorer. He is on his last commission before he becomes the head of the "the office," the Intelligence Agency in Israel. He is using this last job as a time to spend doing something he loves and also nesting with his wife Chiara who is carrying twins. Allon had a child with his first wife but that child is tragically deceased.
This serene time of his life is disturbed by news of a man's death at Lake Como. The "victim" was found out to be a purveyor of stolen art. General Ferrari, the head of the branch of the Italian police that tracks down lost art, convinces Gabriel to investigate the murder and to try and relocate some of the art stolen in Italy. Allan's efforts to do this take up the first half of the book.
The second half of the book has Allon masterminding a scheme that will allow him to seize monies stolen by the Syrian government. It is tied in with the lost art aspect of the first half of the book but shifts the story into a higher gear. It also allows Allon to regroup his team of spies and agents for another job. And nothing is better than when the old gang is doing their thing.
This plan brings in a new player, Jihan Nawaz. She was born in Hama, Syria and is a key component in the scheme Allon is attempting to affect. Last year Silva created "the English Girl" and she was a fascinating character, but the "child of Hama" is even more enchanting. She brings out Allon's protective instincts and he becomes her user as well as her protector.
Gabriel Allon is a man who has known much tragedy in his life. His first wife lives in a world in her mind that he cannot enter. He still visits her but she only comes to reality on rare occasions. The scenes describing his visits to see her are heart wrenching, but Allon's tragedies have made him a better man. He shows this in his life with Chiara, and most tellingly in his relationship with Jihan.
Daniel Silva has long known how to create plots that bring the reader back time and time again. He also knows how to create characters who go inside the brain and work their way down to the heart. He has done this with Allon over the period of several books. Silva fans know just about everything there is to know about him. Still it is surprising to see a different side of this man when he is dealing with the vulnerable but assertive Jihan.
The Heist is a magnificent combination of the old and the new. It is a comfortable read because we are so familiar with the basic characters; it is an enlightening read because of the new characters and Allon's reaction to them. The excitement of the story combined with the beauty of the characters make you more than happy Silva brought Allon along for another summer visit.
The Heist is published by Harper. It contains 496 pages and sells for $27.99.
Jackie K Cooper -- www.jackiekcooper.com