“In the aftermath of the affair, all those involved agreed that no quest for a stolen masterpiece had ever begun in quite the same way.”
Since his last assignment, Israeli spy --- make that ex-spy --- Gabriel Allon has retreated to a bucolic retirement on a stretch of peaceful coast in England. But his retirement is interrupted by an old acquaintance, art dealer Julian Isherwood. Julian owns a fashionable gallery in London that those in the art world describe as never boring, and that’s in his worst times. Now Julian has a problem, a big and definitely unboring problem. It seems that a newly discovered Rembrandt entrusted to him for restoration has gone missing, leaving him holding the bag for $45 million.
Naturally, at first, Gabriel resists Julian’s impassioned pleas for help, but he can’t do so for long. While retirement has so far suited Gabriel and his beautiful wife, ex-agent Chiara, the temptation to get back in the game, even for a brief time, is simply too much. Besides, he reasons, this should be a straightforward task, one that need not involve the Office, nor one that should take a whole lot of effort on his part.
However, this particular Rembrandt hides a deadly secret, and Gabriel soon finds out that there are people willing to kill to keep that secret safe. For Gabriel, the introduction of danger into the mix only adds intrigue, for it is something that he always handles extremely well. But when he and Chiara follow a lead to Buenos Aires and barely escape with their lives, they decide it is time to enlist the aid of their fellow agents. What they have uncovered proves much bigger and carries much more widespread risk than anyone could have imagined. In fact, it is blockbuster.
The search for the painting alone would be quest enough for most people, but it quickly becomes obvious that the history surrounding this Rembrandt is explosive and has the potential to devastate some highly influential people. Its background encompasses Swiss banks, Holocaust survivors, philanthropists, even the Vatican. And what Gabriel and his team discover portends a terrifying future if something is not done to head off a disaster of immense proportions with worldwide implications.
With nonstop action bouncing from England to Amsterdam to South America and back, the pacing here is whirlwind. Gabriel and Chiara and, in fact, everyone involved will need a long respite once this affair is over. That is, if they survive it. Then, can Gabriel once again retire, this time forever? Let’s hope not.
THE REMBRANDT AFFAIR is Daniel Silva’s best thriller to date, and that’s saying a lot, for all of the books in the Gabriel Allon series have been stellar. Silva has an uncanny handle on world politics and how they affect the global population, not to mention an entertaining forum for getting his audience to pay attention to current affairs. There couldn’t be a much more time-appropriate plot than this one, nor one that can so touch its readers’ hearts. This is definitely a novel not to be missed!
Reviewed by Kate Ayers on January 23, 2011