For over twelve years Daniel Silva has been writing Gabriel Allon thrillers. From The Kill Artist in 2000 to the thrilling Moscow Rules in 2008 to last years Portrait of a Spy, Silva has kept them coming year after year. The Fallen Angel by Daniel Silva is the 12th book in the Gabriel Allon series. If you are not familiar with Gabriel, he is a world-class art restorer who doubles as a spy/assasin for Israeli Intelligence (“The Office”). Allon was recruited following the Munich Massacre of the 1972 Olympics. He led a vicious campaign of retribution called "Wrath of God". Allon is the best agent that the Office has ever produced and is like a son to the legendary spymaster, Ari Shamron. Gabriel has paid a high price for his actions. A bomb blast killed his son and gave his first wife severe brain-damage. This weighs heavily on Gabriel. Through the entire series Gabriel often tries to step away from the life of a covert operative. He remains a passionate defender of Israel and Judaism yet he wants a peaceful life with his new bride and his paintings. Unfortunately for Allon events always seem to drag him back into the game.
Gabriel is in his 50′s by the time of The Fallen Angel. He is still deadly and possibly the best covert operative in the world. He has finally found peace in retirement and seems happy. A longtime friend of the Vatican (Gabriel saved the Pope’s life in “The Messenger”), the wayward
son of Israeli intelligence is now living in Rome with his beautiful wife Chiara using his real name for the first time in years. Gabriel peacefully spends his days at the Vatican restoring a masterpiece painting by Caravaggio. Ari Shamron has finally let him retire and he is happy, or as happy as a former assassin can be. One morning this peacefulness is shattered when the private secretary to the Holy Father summons Gabriel to St. Peter’s Basilica. A female employee of the Vatican has jumped to her death in the middle of St. Peter’s. But is it really suicide? Gabriel quickly sees signs pointing to murder. Because of his close friendship with Monsignor Donati, private secretary to the Pope, and because Gabriel was perhaps the last person to see her alive he agrees to quietly look into her death for the Vatican.
Before long Gabriel Allon starts unravelling the threads and uncovers a vast global crime syndicate that traffics in priceless antiquities. The trail possibly leads all the way to the Vatican Bank and the ensuing scandal could destroy the papacy! What seemed like a relatively easy investigation for Allon soon has links to Hezbollah and Iran. Gabriel is forced to return to the Office and assemble his old team in order to prevent the destruction of Israel.
From Vienna to Switzerland to Berlin the action is fast in this novel. Every time you think you have a handle on the plot another huge twist leaps out of the pages. It culminates in Jerusalem with a visit from the Pope on Good Friday and a terror plot that could bring about the end of Israel and start a global jihad.
I loved this book and could not put it down. I am also a big fan of Silva’s previous works. The only complaint is that the formula gets old after a few books. Gabriel is at peace restoring a masterpiece, something happens and Gabriel is forced to act. Shamron gets involved and tells him Israel needs him. Gabriel finds Eli Lavon and tells him he needs him then assembles the rest of the team etc. Daniel Silva excels at the minute details of an operation. It is not simply mindless action, the characters have a well thought out plan that relies on a lot of surveillance and analysis and not just charging in with guns blazing. Silva also has a very unique style of writing. Most of the novel is first person from Gabriel Allon’s perspective then sometimes it can shift to a narrative like someone is telling a story from long ago. It takes a little getting used to but once you are you begin to like the style and recognize the uniqueness of a Gabriel Allon thriller.
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give The Fallen Angel a solid 9. I did not want to put the book down and relished in the detail and twists in the plot. If Daniel Silva writes a 13th Gabriel Allon book I will read it, I just hope he freshens up the formula a little bit. If you are new to the series you could read this book without feeling completely lost. However I would go back and read them from the beginning as I have found the entire series enjoyable.