An Israeli spy by trade and art restorer by preference, Gabriel Allon arrives in Zurich to restore the work of an Old Master for a millionaire banker-and finds himself standing in blood and framed for the man's murder.
Switzerland's shameful behavior in WWII provides the backdrop for this superbly crafted thriller that puts Silva at the forefront of his generation of foreign intrigue specialists. Here, the former CNN correspondent also appears to have settled on a main character to propel his promising line Gabriel Allon, the art restorer and Israeli hit man who starred in last year's acclaimed The Kill Artist. Just a few pages into this sequel, Allon finds himself the apparent victim of a double cross. When he arrives to restore a Raphael owned by reclusive Swiss banker Augustus Rolfe, Allon not only discovers the banker dead but finds himself the number one suspect. The charge doesn't stick, however, and when he is released from custody, he vows to find out who tried to frame him. His first stop is Rolfe's daughter, Anna, one of the world's top violinists and a woman haunted by her family's heritage of wartime greed and cruelty. Allon catches the attention of Switzerland's secretive power structure, which intends to stymie any further investigation into Rolfe's murder and the theft of his suspiciously acquired art collection. The so-called Council of Rutli contracts with a shadowy hit man, known only as the Englishman, to eliminate Allon and anyone else who threatens to expose Switzerland's past. The action unfolds in tightly focused scenes played out across a spectrum of European capitals and more pastoral settings. As a historical framework, the secrets of the Bahnhofstrasse are well-trod territory, yet Silva's sophisticated treatment polished prose, an edgy mood, convincing research gives his plot a crisp, almost urgent quality. Agent, Esther Newberg of ICM. 100,000 first printing; $100,000 national advertising campaign. (Mar. 4) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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February 24, 2003
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Excerpt from The English Assassin by Daniel Silva
THE SOMETIMES-SOLVENT firm of Isherwood Fine Arts had once occupied a piece of fine commercial property on stylish New Bond Street in Mayfair. Then came London's retail renaissance, and New Bond Street -- or New Bondstrasse, as it was derisively known in the trade -- was overrun by the likes of Tiffany and Gucci and Versace and Mikimoto. Julian Isherwood and other dealers specializing in museum-quality Old Masters were driven into St. Jamesian exile -- the Bond Street Diaspora, as Isherwood was fond of calling it. He eventually settled in a sagging Victorian warehouse in a quiet quadrangle known as Mason's Yard, next to the London offices of a minor Greek shipping company and a pub that catered to pretty office girls who rode motor scooters.
Among the incestuous, backbiting villagers of St. James's, Isherwood Fine Arts was considered rather good theater. Isherwood Fine Arts had drama and tension, comedy and tragedy, stunning highs and seemingly bottomless lows. This was, in large measure, a consequence of its owner's personality. He was cursed with a near-fatal flaw for an art dealer: he liked to possess art more than to sell it. Each time a painting left the wall of his exquisite exposition room, Isherwood fell into a raging blue funk. As a result of this affliction he was now burdened by an apocalyptic inventory of what is affectionately known in the trade as dead stock -- paintings for which no buyer would ever pay a fair price. Unsellable paintings. Burned, as they liked to say in Duke Street. Toast. If Isherwood had been asked to explain this seemingly inexplicable failure of business acumen, he might have raised the issue of his father, though he made a point of never -- And I mean never, petal -- talking about his father.