©2002 Daniel Silva; (P)2002 Books on Tape, Inc.
"A thriller that entertains as well as enlightens." (Orlando Sentinel)
"Superbly crafted thriller." (Publishers Weekly)
I don't know if it's Daniel Silva's writing or if it's John Lee's narration, but I am definitely hooked.
The plot is quite good with enough twists. If you're an international traveler, the detailed descriptions of Zurich and Vienna, as well as Venice will invoke memories.
On to the next adventure or Mr. Allon...
This is an exciting and thrilling story until you reach the end. As always Silva includes many thoughtful and unpredictable twists. The end of this story was the only thing I didn?t like. In the end things come together way too nicely. It almost seemed like Silva ran up against a deadline so he stopped being creative and just rushed to the end of the story. My recommendation to anyone new to Silva is to listen to his earlier works first. This will help with character background and give you a better idea of how talented Silva's writings can be. To those of you who have followed Gabriel Allon this is worth listening to, but don't expect him to escape death without some unusal help.
In case you have not yet familiarized yourself with Daniel Silva's amazing oeuvre, you should know this going in: Silva is an author with a mission and a message. In "The English Assassin," he explores the appalling -- and little-known -- role that supposedly-neutral Switzerland played during WWII, aiding and abetting Nazi Germany. Our hero, Gabriel Allon, moves with mastery in both the art world -- as a world-renowned restorer of Old Masters -- and in the espionage world -- as a master assassin. Sound kind of unlikely? Well, yes; but Daniel Silva writes so well that he makes it work: We can suspend disbelief, because we are enjoying the story so much. Most of the episodes in Silva's Gabriel Allon series utilize both of Allon's skills to mutual advantage. In "The English Assassin," Allon uncovers a dirty little secret that "the Swiss financial oligarchy" tries to keep under wraps: the extent to which Switzerland helped Nazi Germany steal and sequester art works from their Jewish owners. (Probably, Swiss listeners should bypass this audiobook.) The general tone and message of "The English Assassin" is well summarized in the following quote from a character known as "The guilty conscience of Switzerland:"
"When you're dealing with Switzerland, Mr. Allon, it's best to keep one thing in mind: Switzerland is not a real country -- it's a business, and it is run like a business. It is a business that is constantly in a defensive posture. It has been that way for 700 years. ... There are people in Switzerland who stand to lose a great deal if the sins of the past are exposed, and the sewers of the Bahnhofstrasse are given the thorough flushing they so desperately need. These people are an invisible government, and are not to be taken lightly. ... If you choose to pursue this matter, I suggest you watch your back: Beware the gnomes of Zurich."
In "The English Assassin," the invisible government referred to in the above quote calls itself The Council of Rütli, and dedicates itself to guarding the illicitly-garnered treasures stolen from doomed Jews during WWII, and hidden in Swiss banks ever since. Gabriel Allon -- Israeli-born son of Holocaust survivors, master art-restorer, and Mossad assassin -- reluctantly gets himself involved in this nest of vipers, nearly to his own demise. One of the previous reviewers understandably wondered about the title of this audiobook -- "The English Assassin" -- since our hero is Israeli, not English, and the eponymous English assassin, Christopher Keller, appears only intermittently as a secondary character in the book. The answer comes eleven years later, in Gabriel Allon's 13th adventure, "The English Girl," where Keller shows up again, this time teaming up with Allon, rather than opposing him. Apparently, Sliva liked the Keller character enough to dust him off for another outing!
I reluctantly docked a star from my rating of narrator John Lee. While he undeniably has one of the most gorgeous voices in all of audiobookdom, and he enunciates beautifully, he doesn't distinguish the characters from one another very well. To me, the ability to individualize the characters with different voices matters a lot in an audiobook, and signifies a good actor, even if that actor doesn't have such a beautiful voice as John Lee's. However, "The English Assassin" otherwise works well as an audiobook thriller, with an albeit dark, serious agenda. I wouldn't recommend to to anybody searching for light listening, nor to Swiss nationals!
Don't know what I want to be when I grow up. Trip's cool though. Use Audible to make gym-training sane... And rip my imagination.
Revealing my problem with this story will trigger a spoiler alert. Yep, it's near to the ending and leaves the rest, and even the buildup, frustrating as if you bit into a Hostess Twinkie, that lacked inner icing.
John Lee's indeterminate continental accent adds a veneer of sophistication to Silva's work, but as I've just written, perhaps the story leaves Lee's efforts sounding a tad pretentious.
Still, Silva stuck in a low gear is better than a lot of others who's plotting might be better tuned, but rarely purr with (in this case) Swiss engineering that Silva can bring to the page. I'll get another one of this guy's books, and if you already enjoy him… Hey, you ought'a get another one too - Instead of the "English Assassin".
This book would have kept me up all night turning pages. BecauseI listen only when I'm doing "mindless" tasks (cooking, cleaning, gardening) I found myself finding many more "mindless" tasks so I could keep on reading. Had to force myself to stop so I could get "real" work done! Only issue with this book is that the voices of characters are not always distinctly different.
Gabriel is chasing down lost art again in (you guessed it) Switzerland. It is a good story and kept me interested throughout. I recommend it.
The reader is good and clear, but there are times when I can't tell who is talking because too many of the characters are rendered with the same accent. While imperfect, this did not really diminish my experience too much.
If you like Chapter 50, you're in luck. You'll hear it twice.
Also, I did get a very minor amount of skipping as if the recording were transfered to audible format from a slightly imperfect CD. Fortunately this occurs only two or three times over 10 hours and does not seriously affect enjoying this title.
What an awesome book! I loved it. I can't wait to read the rest of Daniel Silva's books.
I'm reading the books in order, and I'm not reading "The Confessor" which is equally as good as "The English Assassin".
Hey! It's another espionage/art history novel! Except for theological musings in Da Vinci Code, there are some pretty major similarities between the two. Of course, here the emphasis is on the espionage. The art history is more incidental in this one.
Unlike an earlier reviewer, I did not like the narrator. The accents kept on coming, which is authentic and all, but not always pleasing to the ear, and I got a little sick of listening to them. His regular narration is also laid on a bit thickly. Given it's high rating, Mr. Lee was not a problem for most listeners, but if you are careful in your purchases, you might want to give the sample a listen.
Another minor point. I don't find the title to be very descriptive of the major narrative thread. I would have thought the English assassin to be more central to the plot based on the title. If you are dying to here a lot about British people who kill, you may want to check out something by Ian Fleming.
I am interested in listening to more stories about Gabriel, but I might check for a different narrator and see if that helps.
I really like Daniel Silva books. John Lee has a beautiful voice, but sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between characters. And while I enjoy the more recent Gabriel Allon books a bit more, this was a very engaging read. I would prefer less F-bombs, but other than that Very enjoyable.
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