After narrowly surviving his last operation, Gabriel Allon, the wayward son of Israeli intelligence, has taken refuge behind the walls of the Vatican, where he is restoring one of Caravaggio's greatest masterpieces. But early one morning, he is summoned to St. Peter's Basilica by Monsignor Luigi Donati, the all-powerful private secretary to his Holiness Pope Paul VII. The body of a beautiful woman lies broken beneath Michelangelo's magnificent dome.
The Vatican police suspect suicide, though Gabriel believes otherwise. So, it seems, does Donati. But the monsignor is fearful that a public inquiry might inflict another scandal on the Church, and so he calls upon Gabriel to quietly pursue the truth - with one caveat.
"Rule number one at the Vatican," Donati said. "Don't ask too many questions."
Gabriel learns that the dead woman had uncovered a dangerous secret - a secret that threatens a global criminal enterprise that is looting timeless treasures of antiquity and selling them to the highest bidder. But there is more to this network than just greed. A mysterious operative is plotting an act of sabotage that will plunge the world into a conflict of apocalyptic proportions....
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When will Gabriel retire?
This is another good book by Dan Silva with Gabriel Allon -- one of the most intriguing characters in thriller fiction. He is an assassin with a high sense of purpose, a master spy and detective, a loving family man, and a master of art restorer. He is best friends with the Pope and saves his life at least twice during the series of books. But, he also saves the state of Israel at least once or twice per book.
This episode is constructed as a string of thrillers that starts with the murder of an art historian at the Vatican, and wanders through Paris, St. Moritz, Denmark, Berlin and Jerusalem. Along the way, we get a nice dose of the local scenery, history, and a few art, history, and religion lessons.
Silva's characters stay true to themselves throughout the series and are fairly complex, but once you get to know them, you wish for some new folks to come on board. In this episode, the only new characters of note are the various villains who are just evil people.
George Guidall is always a great narrator/performer and anything he does is worth a listen.
In summary -- if you liked the other books by Silva, you will also like this one. You better read it soon, because it is so timely that I suspect it will not wear well over the years.
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