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Meet Gabriel Allon, reluctant assassin. "The Kill Artist," published in 2000, introduces us to Daniel Silva's popular Gabriel Allon series. Yes, the series gets better as it progresses: "The Kill Artist" is not its best entry. In fact, I think that each entry gets better than the last one, reflecting the growing skill of the author. None-the-less, I still recommend that anyone wishing to listen to the subsequent Gabriel Allon novels should start here, with "The Kill Artist," and then listen to the novels in sequence. The Gabriel Allon character has a lot of complexity, as do the plots of all his adventures. Although Daniel Silva does a good job summarizing all that you need to know for each successive episode, you will still miss out on the richness of this series if you pick it up in the middle. (In fact, I did just that, not knowing any better at the time. Now, I am enjoying going back and listening to the series in the proper order ... and getting so much more out of it than I did the first time 'round.)
Author Daniel Silva is a pretty complex character, himself. Raised in a devoutly Catholic family, he converted to Judaism in adulthood, as a result of his marriage. Now he writes compelling novels about an Israeli Mossad assassin (although, curiously, the Mossad is never mentioned in any of his Gabriel Allon novels -- it is just called "the Office"), in which we learn more than we may have ever wanted to know about the Holocaust, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, international politics, and recent world history. Whether or not these novels suit one's taste in fiction, one cannot deny the deep, penetrating intelligence and profound, cynical knowledge of world events and human nature that emanates from all of Daniel Silva's novels. As some previous reviewers have noted, "The Kill Artist" has some pretty dark aspects to it -- don't buy it for light escape fiction -- but it does offer some intriguing, disturbing, and surprisingly fair-minded insights into current headlines and the human psychology behind them.
George Guidall, as always, does an excellent job narrating "The Kill Artist." He has a lovely, warm, mature voice, that he can adapt into many different characters, including female characters. Although he draws some of his accents from his "generic" bag, he uses a pretty credible French accent for this audiobook.
37 of 39 people found this review helpful
I have had this book on my shelf for some time now and decided to see for myself if Daniel Silva's Israeli assassin, Gabriel Allon, was as good as I have heard. I can honestly say that Gabriel did not fit into my image of an assassin.
As the story begins, a mysterious stranger moves into a old cottage in an isolated English village, Port Navas Cornwall. The first chapter is told from the viewpoint of Peel, a boy of around 10, who had also recently moved to the village with his mother. Therefore, it takes several chapters to find out the stranger is Gabriel Allon.
Gabriel was a world renowned art restorer, the cover job he had in order to hide the fact that he worked for the Israeli intelligence service. However, he "retired" from the clandestine service nearly 10 years previously when a terrorist he was contracted to take out placed a bomb under his car, killing his son and turning his wife into an empty shell. After that, Gabriel went into a self imposed exile and immersed himself into restoring paintings in the hope of forgetting the past.
Then the Israeli ambassador and his wife are killed by terrorists in Paris, and Ari Shamron, head of the intelligence service, discovers the assassin was none other than Tariq, the Palestinian who destroyed Gabriel's family. Shamron trusts no one, and secretly goes to England to bring Gabriel back for one more mission. Gabriel can not refuse, even though he knows killing Tariq will not bring his family back.
In other novels featuring assassins, they tend to be cold and calculating, justifying their actions by believing the target deserved to die for their transgressions. Gabriel, however, has flashbacks and feels guilty for what he has done. Benjamin Stone, a wealthy backer of the Israeli operation, describes Gabriel as "an assassin with a conscience."
Given all the baggage Gabriel is carrying around, I had my doubts as to whether he would be an effective assassin. Add in the fact that he has been inactive for nearly 10 years and he was at a distinct disadvantage.
I thought the book started out slowly, but it gradually picked up its pace before finally reaching its climax. But even after the climax, there were more plot twists which tied the story into a neat little ball. Gabriel seemed to enjoy restoring paintings much more than his other line of work. Therefor, this is not the typical testosterone filled prose that one would associate with a story about an assassin, but rather paints a softer, more human side of the occupation.
There are several more books in the series, so I am anxious to find out what would bring him out of retirement again
7 of 7 people found this review helpful