‘The English Assassin’ is the 2nd book in Daniel Silva’s series featuring Gabriel Allon, the art restorer and part-time Israeli spy. Although written as a series, with some progressive character building, I’ve found in the Gabriel Allon books that I’ve read that they don’t necessarily need to be read in order.
In this novel, Gabriel is sent (as the famous art restorer Mario Delvechio) to restore a Raphael for a wealthy Swiss banker – Augustus Rolfe. When Gabriel arrives, he finds that Rolfe has been murdered and that he has been set up. When the Israelis finally manage to free Gabriel from the Swiss police, he contacts Augustus Rolfe’s daughter – Anna Rolfe (a world famous violinist) to try and work out what is really going on.
Quickly they discover that Augustus Rolfe’s secret collection of artwork was stolen when he was murdered. Now Gabriel wants to find out who murdered Rolfe, who stole the paintings, and how the art collection came to be in Rolfe’s possession in the first place.
Eventually Gabriel finds that the paintings were stolen from Jewish art galleries and private collections by Nazis during WWII, and have been stored in a Swiss bank vault ever since. It is suspected that thousands of paintings, sculptures and other artwork is also hidden in Switzerland. Rolfe obtained his collection through his collaboration with the Nazis during the war.
The English assassin is a contract killer who Gabriel Allon originally helped to train. He’s been hired by a group in Switzerland who are intent on keeping Switzerland’s secrets secret. And now he’s after both Gabriel Allon and Anna Rolfe because it is feared that they know enough to expose some of the secret dealings that went on between the Swiss and the Nazis during WWII.
This book was fast paced and exciting and as with other Gabriel Allon books dealt with a major issue facing the Jewish people and the state of Israel. I did feel that it generalised a bit too much, obviously there were plenty of Swiss people who weren’t Nazi collaborators during the war and who see their country as a country rather than a business. However, it would be interesting to know exactly what is hidden in Swiss bank vaults. The novel was certainly very thought provoking.
I will continue reading the series in order, so my next novel will be ‘The Confessor’. I recently read ‘The Fallen Angel’ and with Gabriel Allon’s advancing age I wonder how he continues to recover so well from the constant beatings that he receives.
Book Published 2002