Gabriel Allon, art restorer and occasional spy, searches for a stolen masterpiece by Caravaggio in number-one New York Times best-selling author Daniel Silva’s latest action-packed tale of high-stakes international intrigue.
Sometimes the best way to find a stolen masterpiece is to steal another one....
Master novelist Daniel Silva has thrilled listeners with 16 thoughtful and gripping spy novels featuring a diverse cast of compelling characters and ingenious plots that have taken them around the globe and back - from the United States to Europe, Russia to the Middle East. His brilliant creation, Gabriel Allon - art restorer, assassin, spy - has joined the pantheon of great fictional secret agents, including George Smiley, Jack Ryan, Jason Bourne, and Simon Templar.
Following the success of his smash hit The English Girl, Daniel Silva returns with another powerhouse of a novel that showcases his outstanding skill and brilliant imagination, and is sure to be a must-listen for both his multitudes of fans and growing legions of converts.
©2014 Daniel Silva (P)2014 HarperCollins Publishers
People say I resemble my dog (and vice-versa). He can hear sounds I can't hear, but I'm the one who listens to audiobooks.
Being a big fan of Steve Berry's Cotton Malone series and Alex Berenson's John Wells, it was only natural to give Daniel Silva a try, his Gabriel Allon falling somewhere between Malone and Wells on the espionage spectrum. The first half of The Heist had me well hooked (though I had a serious credibility issue with how easily Allon is recruited and could easily see how obviously red this herring was). But then the remainder, the non-red-herring part of the story, completely foundered in a sea of unlikely actions.
In short, Gabriel Allon has got to be the worst spy ever. He fails to accomplish either of his two main objectives in The Heist, until the very end when he does in fact succeed in one of the two endeavors, but only by going back to pursue the very first clue he uncovered, which he had, for no discernible reason, ignored the first time around, and which has no relation to anything else in the story (i.e. deus ex machina, one of the most widely discredited literary cliches).
He not only misses this obvious clue, he also achieves intermediate objectives with the help of a clairvoyant (who only foresees some plot points but not others, quite conveniently for the author, although not for Allon) as well as a tell-all letter that is conveniently left for him to find by someone he never met. Later, he manages to recruit an asset who conveniently spills her most closely half secrets at the drop of a hat, after carefully hiding those secrets from some of the scariest bad guys imaginable (and later in the story conceals the truth while being tortured). So convenient.
Robert McKee, the great writing instructor, nailed it when he said that a plot is built on the premise that people will do only as much they feel they have to do to accomplish something, never anything more than that. Why on earth would anyone ever do more than they think they have to? When have you ever done anything more? A plot is built when that effort falls short and people then have to ratchet their efforts to the next level.
Silva's plot completely falls apart when this basic principle is wildly transgressed. If the goal is to get an electronic tracker on someone, why on earth would your method of doing that be: steal Sunflowers from the Van Gogh museum and create a perfect forgery and sell it on the open black market. Surely you'd try something less ambitious first, even it is just pretending to have stolen the painting as a pretext to slip a tracker onto the guy. Even so, the ploy fails, as the tracker proves to be a dead end. What exactly is the point of this entire effort? Nada.
And why oh why, in a story that uses the heist as its fulcrum to pivot from art theft to Middle East politics, would you painstakingly detail, at length, trivialities like the technique of determining that a painting is hidden under another painting, but have something as central to the story as the Van Gogh heist happen completely off screen (i.e., not described at all, it just happens, the story jumping forward from the first stages of planning the heist to the theft being a fait accompli).
This is Silva's second most recent effort. It has gotten mixed reviews from readers who have read him extensively, most of the negatives being that it is stale and rehashed. This being my first Silva-Allon, I have to conclude that the staleness is simply the result of laziness. The many plot holes (there are many more beside the instances I've touched on), could have easily been worked out. This effort seems to have been rushed, mailed in.
Veteran Silva readers have also complained about the repetition of character background stories, lifted from previous novels. First time readers like me are left completely confused about these too frequent allusions to prior events. Again, lazy writing -- make it stand on its own, don't rely so heavily on past novels to the point where you're annoying longtime readers and newbies alike.
Others reviewing this one have generally rated this book high. I was through 5-6 chapters and I just gave up. This is the worst book the author has produced.
Great writing, topical, fleshes out one's understanding of the Middle East through the story and the characters, impressive narration. For me, there is just enough violence to make it plausible, but not too much to make it unbearable for me. I can't say I find the character of Chiara appealing or even understandable, but maybe one can never see what someone loves in another.
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Interesting, Entertaining, Suspendfull !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
As always, Gabriel !!
The ending. Kept wanting more
As reviews mentioned same old story, same ending. Couldn't be so wrong. George was great. Great Book. I hope Daniel doesn't wait too long for the next one.
The whole book just dragged on and on. He did not build his characters. Just one event after another.. I found it boring.
Not really. His writing skills were better when he started. He is very disappointing now.
That is the ONLY aspect of this book that I enjoyed. He is the best narrator. He brought life into what I found to be a very predictable boring and non-exiting book.
No proper plot. Just dragged on and on and on.
The singular conversation between Gabriel and his first wife is without question the most emotional, best written, and best performed section of any book he's yet written. Someone should get George to redo the books narrated by other performers.
Gabriel Allon is such a bad ass. This series makes me want to never stop listening/reading!
Daniel Silva has to be one of the most brilliant writers today. I love the way he integrates true events into fiction involving the most lovable Gabriel Alon
after twice rereading this after i finished The Black Widow, i disagree with all the negative reviews for The Heist this story, and The English Spy are better.
Did not really care much for the newest heroine in The Black Widow, Natalie.....she is the least welll drawn female character in all the Allon novels, i think. i would like to see follow up of Jihan Nawas from The Heist, i liked her very much .
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