Monday, August 2, 2010

The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva

Daniel Silva is a master of the intelligent thriller, spy novel. His latest, The Rembrandt Affair will not disappoint the millions of his fans. It is the next in the series about Gabriel Allon, Israeli intelligence agent and professional art restorer. Silva takes us back to Cornwall, England ( I will get there in my lifetime) where Allon is living a quiet life with his wife Chiara, also a former Israeli operative. The action begins immediately and Silva has his reader hooked. A friend and fellow art restorer has been working on a mysterious Rembrandt painting. He is murdered and the canvas stolen, the action that sets the stage for the novel.

At first Gabriel becomes involved as a favor to Julian Isherwood, Allon's friend and proprietor of a sometimes profitable art gallery in London. However, as the action escalates, Allon becomes immersed with the history of the painting that takes him to Amsterdam and secrets of the Holocaust.
The Rembrandt Affair is somewhat a departure from the usual Silva novel. Evidenced by his interview with a "hidden child", there are many poignant moments in the book. Allon is on the move and he or his colleagues travel to Glastonbury, London, Buenos Aires, Paris, Lake Geneva, and of course Jerusalem. A familiar team is assembled with the likes of Shamron, Uzi Navot, archaeologist, and Eli Lavon. Add to the mix a very attractive British journalist, Zoe Reed, CIA operatives from Langley, British M16 personnel, and you have a group of agents who will search for the painting and in the process encounter nefarious and ruthless business magnates who are willing to undermine world peace for in exchange for amassing wealth.

There is not as much violence in this novel as in the previous Allon books, nor the arms descriptions that the reader has come to expect. Instead we are treated to an array of electronic devices and the tasks that they can accomplish. It was enough to send the best technophile into overdrive. In an interview with Matt Lauer on the Today Show, Silva responds to 3 disturbing accusations about defiling the art world, his writing process, and putting his marriage in jeopardy. In The Rembrandt Affair we also get an insight into some of Silva's political beliefs - his support of Israel, skepticism about global warming, and the ineffectiveness of the Homeland Security department. Silva's writing is accomplished and polished, his characters are more than believable and the reader needs to remember that this is really fiction, and the plot moves more quickly than the reader can turn the page. And now we have to wait at least another year before we are treated to the next Allon installment. Not FAIR!

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