I read the 'Rembrandt Affair' a year ago and really enjoyed Gabriel Allon, the Israeli spy and assassin who just can't quit his job. I expect spies to...moreI read the 'Rembrandt Affair' a year ago and really enjoyed Gabriel Allon, the Israeli spy and assassin who just can't quit his job. I expect spies to have a lot of personal baggage - why else would they gravitate to a profession that requires isolation, deception, moral ambiguity and high ideals (whether it's for a country, a religious belief, or personal gain). He had a rich background and I slipped very easily into the story, enjoying every moment. And then I found out it was the eleventh in the series. It's a mark of a great series when a book stands on its own, acknolwedging that a lot of water is under the bridge but you neither feel left out or beat over the head with recaps from prior books (the Sookie Stackhouse novels are for people who enjoy that kind of pain).
I felt compelled to go to the beginning, The Kill Artist, which is the first book in the series and where we first meet Gabriel Allon. And lo and behold, even then you understand that he's already had his share of life, and death. Silva kicks off the series with a fully-formed Allon, a spy who has already lived the enviable James Bond-style life, had a family and great success, but who has lost it all.
For anyone who loves heavy doses of exotic locations and political intrigue mixed (sparingly) with pinches of real world leaders, this series is superb. Silva is extraordinarily knowledgable about world affairs and shares insightful commentary (through his characters), due to his journalism background (including CNN) and his stint as a correspondent in the Middle East during the Iran-Iraq war. I will admit that I didn't know of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict origins and (if it's accurately told) now I have a much better understanding - there are truly two sides to that conflict.
I'm looking forward to reading books 2-9 and now number 12. I have many, many good hours of reading ahead of me.(less)
This is a thoughtful, engaging novel by an author I hadn't read before. I wish it wasn't the last one, though. I missed so much of Gabriel Allon's lif...moreThis is a thoughtful, engaging novel by an author I hadn't read before. I wish it wasn't the last one, though. I missed so much of Gabriel Allon's life, but even stepping into his world at the twilight of his career was rewarding.
I enjoyed the 'what if' aspect of the plot and could entirely believe the story behind Rembrandt's missing painting and his mistress. The cultural, historical and geographical elements were richly woven together to tell two tales - Allon's and the painting's. Both have had violent pasts and both deserve a graceful return to their natural state.
Even after reading the end first, I would enjoy starting at the beginning with "The Kill Artist" and read the eight others in the series leading up to "The Rembrandt Affair." An Israeli intelligence agent with a passion for restoring masterpieces delivers just the right balance of thrills and intrigue. (less)