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The Heist: A Novel (Gabriel Allon) Paperback – Large Print, August 5, 2014
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“The Heist by Silva is nothing short of phenomenal. It is his best work to date. And that is a huge statement since each novel has been unique and marvelous.” (Naples Daily News)
“Ingenious.” (Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
“The story is a twisting tale of moves and countermoves, and even if this is your introduction to Gabriel Allon, you’ll find the characters in the book come to life.” (Oklahoma City Oklahoman)
“Silva has weaved together a story with intrigue, insight, and suspense.” (Crimespree Magazine)
“A fun read….In erudition, action and temperament, Silva has made Allon the modern-day covert warrior extraordinaire.” (Kirkus)
“Magnificent….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.” (Huffington Post)
“Smart, unpredictable, and packed with bits of history, art, heart, and imagination, this is a page turner to be savored….When it comes to the vast club of practitioners of international spycraft, Silva is a cut above them all, and The English Girl is a masterwork.” (Neal Thompson, Amazon.com on The English Girl)
“Although Gabriel’s adventures are set in the real world of greedy politicians and grabs for control of a diminishing supply of natural resources, ‘Israel’s avenging angel’ has the superhuman abilities that make for a satisfying fantasy.” (Columbus Dispatch on The English Girl)
“Allon is a great political operative, but Silva is an even greater writer. That is what makes THE ENGLISH GIRL a must read.” (Huffington Post on The English Girl)
From the Back Cover
A fallen spy
A missing masterpiece
A daring mission
Legendary spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon is at work in Venice repairing an altarpiece when he receives an urgent summons from the Italian police. The art dealer Julian Isherwood has stumbled upon a murder scene in Lake Como, and is being held as a suspect. To save his friend, Gabriel must perform one simple task: Find the most famous missing painting in the world.
Sometimes the best way to find a stolen masterpiece is to steal another one . . .
The dead man is a fallen spy with a secret: he's been trafficking in stolen artworks and selling them to a mysterious collector. Among those paintings is the world's most iconic missing masterpiece: Caravaggio's Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence.
Gabriel embarks on a daring gambit to recover the Caravaggio that will take him on an exhilarating hunt—from Marseilles and Corsica, to Paris and London, and finally to a small private bank in Austria, where a dangerous man stands guard over the ill-gotten wealth of one of the world's most brutal dictators . . .
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Silva’s The Heist, provides his usual Commedia dell’arte troupe; (a dead fallen spy, a one-eyed police chief, a master art thief, a professional killer, a piratical clan leader, a dead master art forger, the heads of M16, Israeli Intelligence, and the future chief of same, a living master art restorer, art forger and painter, banking kingpins, a supernatural soothsayer, a Russian robber baron, and a coven of shadow spies, torturers, hit men, and black market brokers interspersed with giblets of classy travel, history, art craft, and politics, including Israel’s preference for dealing with strong men and not Democracies.
Instead of building on previous novels, as some of Silva’s reviewers appear to believe, the author pulls his stock characters through different doors in well worn stage scenery. We watch the protagonist, Gabriel Allon, dab and twirl and discard swabs restoring classical art, paint an entire Van Gogh in three days, and uncover stolen paintings through tiny window openings. While we watch, the author tells us repeatedly the talented artist is really a legendary spy so often it becomes annoying.
The Heist is easy reading, but replete with tired maxims. It starts with an intriguing story line that the best way to find a stolen masterpiece is to steal another one. As the story unfolds we discover fascinating sidelights such as talented forgers painting over stolen masterpieces with a lesser-known artist’s work in order to use the forgery to disguise the theft.
The soon to be head of Israeli Intelligence, Gabriel the Angel gathers together an entourage of thieves and killers, and hops chapter to chapter from Venice to Marseille to Jerusalem to London to Geneva to Paris to Munich to Lake Como, only to turn around and hop all over again. Then suddenly, midway through the one plot, the story turns into another; Whilst seeking the whereabouts of the priceless lost Caravaggio painting, the new plot line begins exposing politics the of maniacal political robbers. This is where we ask ourselves, what is going on here? Which is the real plot?
The matter of the facts is that the whole idea of a lost masterpiece as the plot is a rather so-so concept to begin with, and the reading only becomes a page turner when the soon to be Israeli Intelligence chief and his crack team of on-loan shadowy investigators uncovers political chicanery and introduces a realistic damsel in distress, and the author allows suspense to boil and bubble over whether our damsel might actually get caught.
Gabriel is a nice guy to his wife, to his mentally hobbled ex-wife, to his boss’s bossy wife, and even to the women who work for and with him to the point where he is willing to gladly give up billions to save the damsel he hardly knows. Gabriel the Angel only come across as “fallen” when dealing through intermediaries with the bad guys, which is a really weird yet acceptable characterization of the art of master spying. What I don’t understand, however, is novel’s need for the mysterious appearance of an omniscient fortuneteller, repetition of the Munich disaster, and no explanation for how in the world anyone can paint a Van Gogh indistinguishable from the original in three days.
Richard Dorsey, Hacienda Heights, CA. AKA, diogenes of california
The Heist is different from most Allon stories in that very little violence takes place. There is plenty of suspense though.
My favorite aspect of this novel is the insight it provides into the world of stolen art, Middle Eastern politics (Syrian in this case) and European private banks who handle stolen fortunes for international criminals and heads of state. I also enjoyed the travelog element as Allon moves between Italy, Paris, London, Switzerland, Germany and Israel. Most Allon novels provide these elements in various measures, but The Heist does a particularly good job of it.
I heartily recommend The Heist. To say more could be a spoiler.
Gabriel Allon is in this novel only a year away from heading Israel's intelligence agency. He is blackmailed into helping Italy's head of art thefts into finding a multi-million dollar stolen painting. The head man is "a devious bastard..... That's why he's so good at his job." Allon needs to deal with fascinating thieves who acquire paintings for very rich clients that are not actually for sale, professionals who carry out commissioned thefts, as well as a Corsican-English killer, Keller, who appeared in Silva's prior novel. Everything about Keller seemed to have been expressly designed for the purpose of killing. He was always successful in his murder missions except when he tried to kill Allon. Allon had to deal with people who were quick to resort to violence when they didn't get their way. It all started for Allon when his friend discovered the mutilated body of Jack Bradshaw who was a middleman between thieves and buyers, a high-end fence.
The missing painting was created by Caravaggio (c. 1571-1610) an actual famous - actually notorious - painter who Silva describes for us. He was an influential figure in the transition from late mannerism to baroque. He was also a wanted murderer.