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A Death in Vienna (Gabriel Allon, Bk 4) Mass Market Paperback – February 1, 2005


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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Signet; Mass Paperback Edition edition (February 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451213181
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451213181
  • Product Dimensions: 4.3 x 1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (370 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,203 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Product Description
Art restorer and sometime spy Gabriel Allon is sent to Vienna to investigate a bombing and uncovers a portrait of evil stretching across sixty years and thousands of lives-and into his own personal nightmares.

Amazon Exclusive Essay: Daniel Silva on Gabriel Allon and the "Accidental Series"

Writers tend to be solitary creatures. We toil alone for months on end, then, once a year, we emerge from our dens to publish a book. It can be a daunting experience, especially for someone like me, who is not gregarious and outgoing by nature. But there is one aspect of promotion I truly love: meeting my readers and answering their questions. During each stop on my book tour, I reserve the bulk of my time for a lively conversation with the audience. I learn much from these encounters-indeed, some of the comments are so insightful they take my breath away. There is one question I am asked each night without fail, and it remains my favorite: "How in the world did you ever think of Gabriel Allon?" The answer is complicated. In one sense, he was the result of a long, character-construction process. In another, he was a bolt from the blue. I'll try to explain.

In 1999, after publishing The Marching Season, the second book in the Michael Osbourne series, I decided it was time for a change. We were nearing the end of the Clinton administration, and the president was about to embark on a last-ditch effort to bring peace to the Middle East. I had the broad outlines of a story in mind: a retired Israeli assassin is summoned from retirement to track down a Palestinian terrorist bent on destroying the Oslo peace process. I thought long and hard before giving the Israeli a name. I wanted it to be biblical, like my own, and to be heavy with symbolism. I finally decided to name him after the archangel Gabriel. As for his family name, I chose something short and simple: Allon, which means "oak tree" in Hebrew. I liked the image it conveyed. Gabriel Allon: God's angel of vengeance, solid as an oak.

Gabriel's professional résumé-the operations he had carried out-came quickly. But what about his other side? What did he like to do in his spare time? What was his cover? I knew I wanted something distinct. Something memorable. Something that would, in many respects, be the dominant attribute of his character. I spent many frustrating days mulling over and rejecting possibilities. Then, while walking along one of Georgetown's famous redbrick sidewalks, my wife, Jamie, reminded me that we had a dinner date that evening at the home of David Bull, a man regarded as one of the finest art restorers in the world. I stopped dead in my tracks and raised my hands toward the heavens. Gabriel Allon was complete. He was going to be an art restorer, and a very good one at that.

Over my objections, the book was entitled The Kill Artist and it would go on to become a New York Times bestseller. It was not, however, supposed to be the first book in a long-running series. But once again, fate intervened. In 2000, after moving to G.P. Putnam & Sons, my new publishers asked me what I was working on. When I mumbled something about having whittled it down to two or three options, they offered their first piece of advice. They really didn't care what it was about, they just wanted one thing: Gabriel Allon.

I then spent the next several minutes listing all the reasons why Gabriel, now regarded as one of the most compelling and successful continuing characters in the mystery-thriller genre, should never appear in a second book. I had conceived him as a "one off" character, meaning he would be featured in one story and then ride into the sunset. I also thought he was too melancholy and withdrawn to build a series around, and, at nearly fifty years of age, perhaps a bit too old as well. My biggest concern, however, had to do with his nationality and religion. I thought there was far too much opposition to Israel in the world-and far too much raw anti-Semitism-for an Israeli continuing character ever to be successful in the long term.

My new publishers thought otherwise, and told me so. Because Gabriel lived in Europe and could pass as German or Italian, they believed he came across as more "international" than Israeli. But what they really liked was Gabriel's other job: art restoration. They found the two opposing sides of his character-destroyer and healer-fascinating. What's more, they believed he would stand alone on the literary landscape. There were lots of CIA officers running around saving the world, they argued, but no former Israeli assassins who spent their spare time restoring Bellini altarpieces.

The more they talked, the more I could see their point. I told them I had an idea for a story involving Nazi art looting during the Second World War and the scandalous activities of Swiss banks. "Write it with Gabriel Allon," they said, "and we promise it will be your biggest-selling book yet." Eventually, the book would be called The English Assassin, and, just as Putnam predicted, it sold twice as many copies as its predecessor. Oddly enough, when it came time to write the next book, I still wasn't convinced it should be another Gabriel novel. Though it seems difficult to imagine now, I actually conceived the plot of The Confessor without him in mind. Fortunately, my editor, Neil Nyren, saved me from myself. The book landed at #5 on the New York Times bestseller list and received some of the warmest reviews of my career. After that, a series was truly born.

I am often asked whether it is necessary to read the novels in sequence. The answer is no, but it probably doesn't hurt, either. For the record, the order of publication is The Kill Artist, The English Assassin, The Confessor, A Death in Vienna, Prince of Fire, The Messenger, The Secret Servant, and Moscow Rules, my first #1 New York Times bestseller. The Defector pits Gabriel in a final, dramatic confrontation with the Russian oligarch and arms dealer Ivan Kharkov, and I have been told it far surpasses anything that has come before it in the series. And to think that, if I'd had my way, only one Gabriel Allon book would have been written. I remain convinced, however, that had I set out in the beginning to create him as a continuing character, I would surely have failed. I have always believed in the power of serendipity. Art, like life, rarely goes according to plan. Gabriel Allon is proof of that.

From Publishers Weekly

Silva completes his cycle of three interconnected novels (The English Assassin; The Confessor) dealing with "the unfinished business of the Holocaust" with this superbly crafted narrative of espionage and foreign intrigue. During the later stages of WWII, Sturmbannführer Erich Radek's job was to erase all evidence of the Holocaust. Radek, now known as Ludwig Vogel, is chairman of the Danube Valley Trade and Investment Corporation and lives quietly in Vienna. A bombing at the Austrian Wartime Claims and Inquiries office leaves chief investigator Eli Lavon near death. Undercover Mossad agent Gabriel Allon, protagonist of the two previous novels, is ordered by Israeli spymaster Ari Shamron to ferret out the perpetrator. Allon is reluctant-he's working as an art restorer on one of Bellini's great altarpieces in Venice-but Eli is an old friend from the secret service, and duty calls. The case becomes personal when Allon, reading his mother's account of her time in the camps "I will not tell all the things I saw. I cannot. I owe this much to the dead" discovers that not only was Radek a sadistic monster, his mother was very nearly murdered by him. The chase is long and complex as agents from a number of international spy groups circle and harass Allon as he hunts down the infamous and still deadly Radek. Those seeking cheap thrills should look elsewhere. Action and suspense abound, but this is serious fiction with a serious purpose. Silva keeps the pressure on the reader as well as his characters as there are important lessons to be learned and vital history to be remembered.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

He has been called his generation's finest writer of international intrigue and one of the greatest American spy novelists ever. Compelling, passionate, haunting, brilliant: these are the words that have been used to describe the work of #1 New York Times-bestselling author Daniel Silva.

Silva burst onto the scene in 1997 with his electrifying bestselling debut, The Unlikely Spy, a novel of love and deception set around the Allied invasion of France in World War II. His second and third novels, The Mark of the Assassin and The Marching Season, were also instant New York Times bestsellers and starred two of Silva's most memorable characters: CIA officer Michael Osbourne and international hit man Jean-Paul Delaroche. But it was Silva's fourth novel, The Kill Artist, which would alter the course of his career. The novel featured a character described as one of the most memorable and compelling in contemporary fiction, the art restorer and sometime Israeli secret agent Gabriel Allon, and though Silva did not realize it at the time, Gabriel's adventures had only just begun. Gabriel Allon appears in Silva's next nine novels, each one more successful than the last: The English Assassin, The Confessor, A Death in Vienna, and Prince of Fire, The Messenger, The Secret Servant, Moscow Rules, and The Defector. Silva's forthcoming novel, The Rembrandt Affair, will be published on July 20, 2010.

Silva knew from a very early age that he wanted to become a writer, but his first profession would be journalism. Born in Michigan, raised and educated in California, he was pursuing a master's degree in international relations when he received a temporary job offer from United Press International to help cover the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco. Later that year Silva abandoned his studies and joined UPI fulltime, working first in San Francisco, then on the foreign desk in Washington, and finally as Middle East correspondent in Cairo and the Persian Gulf. In 1987, while covering the Iran-Iraq war, he met NBC Today National Correspondent Jamie Gangel and they were married later that year. Silva returned to Washington and went to work for CNN and became Executive Producer of its talk show unit including shows like Crossfire, Capital Gang and Reliable Sources.

In 1995 he confessed to Jamie that his true ambition was to be a novelist. With her support and encouragement he secretly began work on the manuscript that would eventually become the instant bestseller The Unlikely Spy. He left CNN in 1997 after the book's successful publication and began writing full time. Since then all of Silva's books have been New York Times and international bestsellers. His books have been translated in to more than 25 languages and are published around the world. Silva continues to reside in Washington with his wife and teenage twins Lily and Nicholas. When not writing he can usually be found roaming the stacks of the Georgetown University library, where he does much of the research for his books. He is currently at work on a new Gabriel Allon novel and warmly thanks all those friends and loyal readers who have helped to make the series such an amazing success.


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Customer Reviews

Daniel Silva gives a detailed description of the locations and history of Vienna.
Darrell W. Collins
Many of his books have the same characters but he makes it very easy to understand how they all fit together-in the past and in the time of the book.
K. M. Wolfe
I really enjoy this series - great historical background, great characters and very interesting story.
H. Angle

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

101 of 105 people found the following review helpful By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on February 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
The death camps of the Reich provide the underpinnings of this intense and fast-paced novel in which the author draws new attention to the collusion of governments and institutions in protecting Nazi war criminals into the present day. Gabriel Allon, the main character, is working peacefully as a fine art restorer in Venice when he is suddenly summoned by his mentor in the Israeli secret service to investigate the bombing of the Vienna Office of Wartime Claims and Inquiries. Although the Austrian government has declared the bombing to be the work of an Islamist terrorist group, Allon believes it is more likely the result of current anti-Semitism within Austria. An extremely conservative candidate for Chancellor is given a high likelihood of winning the coming election and, the author points out, bringing the philosophy of the Reich into the twenty-first century.

As Allon searches for the perpetrators, the action careens from Vienna to Israel, Italy, Argentina, the US, and back to Vienna, and involves complex political, financial, and national security issues affecting a number of countries. Always, the present is tied to the history of the Reich. Erich Radek, a former Nazi, is still alive and active in Vienna, his war-time obliteration of the graves and bodies at Polish death camps so total that a new generation of Austrians is now asking, "Where is the evidence that the Holocaust ever happened?" Konrad Becker, a Zurich banker, has a mysterious client with over two billion dollars in assets; a Catholic bishop who helped war criminals escape is still connected to governments and police; successive governments in Argentina have provided aid to war criminals since the time of Peron; and American CIA agents have protected some war criminals during the Cold War.
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34 of 40 people found the following review helpful By E. Bukowsky HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 23, 2004
Format: Hardcover
"A Death in Vienna" is Daniel Silva's third novel about how the horrors of the Holocaust reach into the present. Gabriel Allon is a former Israeli spy who now works as an art restoration expert in Venice. His old boss from the Israeli Intelligence Service, Ari Shamron, appears one day with devastating news about an explosion in Vienna. Gabriel is not anxious to go back to the city where his wife and son had been victims of a car bomb in 1991. However, Shamron persuades him to return to this "forbidden city" to investigate the bombing of the Wartime Claims and Inquiries Office, which left two young women dead and an old friend, Eli Lavon, in a coma.
Gabriel soon learns that a man named Max Klein had set the events in motion that may have led to the bombing. Klein had once been a violinist in the Auschwitz camp orchestra and he had a particularly vivid memory of a Nazi named Erich Radek. In front of Klein, Radek once killed fifteen concentration camp prisoners in cold blood when they could not correctly identify a musical piece by Brahms. Many years later, Klein spots this same war criminal placidly having coffee in a Viennese café, and he reports what he has seen to Eli Lavon, who then begins to make the inquiries that almost cost him his life. Gabriel's investigation leads him to make some horrifying discoveries, the most painful one being the heart-rending story of his mother's two years of hell as an inmate of Auschwitz-Birkenau.
Silva writes with great feeling about the harrowing events of the Holocaust and the culpability of those who helped the Nazis escape punishment after the war ended.
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41 of 52 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I'm truly sorry that I can't join in with crowd that has given this book high praise. "A Death in Vienna" left me strangely disappointed. Mr. Silva claims the book completes a trilogy on the unfinished business of the Holocaust. I finished the book feeling that Mr. Silva left the book itself unfinished - well, if not unfinished, then certainly unpolished [sic].
I have nothing against authors using their novels to bring home a point or issue important to them. But when the point/issue becomes bigger than the book itself, the book suffers. That is what happened in this novel.
Mr. Silva is certainly entitled to remind his readers that the Holocaust should never be forgotten, nor ever allowed to happen again (to any people). However, in his desire to bring that point home, the book lost the rich quality of his other works. I would have been much happier had Mr. Silva written an op-ed piece on the occasion of this book's publishing. Unlike Mr. Silva's previous works, I never got the feeling in "A Death in Vienna" that it was the characters who were tormented. Instead, it seemed all too clear that Mr. Silva was the tormented one. Not good, not even acceptable, for a novelist of Mr. Silva's caliber and capabilities.
Having served in Vienna, the book was somewhat of a trip down Nostalgia Lane for me. However, in painting the right-wing political party of Austria (Freedom Party) as two-dimensional bad guys reduces this book to nothing more than a paperback Western in the tradition of "Shootout At the OK Corral" (et al). "A Death in Vienna" is really nothing more (stylistically and structurally) than a revenge tale (seen "Open Range," anyone?).
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