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Publisher's Summary

Tightly written thrillers like The Marching Season have made best-selling novelist Daniel Silva a favorite of readers everywhere. In The Kill Artist, he paints an absorbing portrait of a reluctant hero’s attempt to thwart an old enemy to preserve a precarious peace.

After the assassination of his wife and son, Gabriel Allon retires from his brutal anti-terrorist career and loses himself in his previous cover job: art restoration. But when Tariq al-Hourani, the Palestinian terrorist responsible for his family’s death, begins a killing spree designed to destroy Middle East peace talks, Gabriel once again slips into the shadowy world of international intrigue. In a global game of hide-and-seek, the motives of Gabriel and Tariq soon become more personal than political.

Filled with vivid action and a fascinating cast of supporting characters, The Kill Artist delivers pulse-pounding suspense, carried to a startling climax by the tension-packed narration of George Guidall.

©2000 Daniel Silva (P)2001 Recorded Books

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  • Snoodely
  • Santa Barbara, CA United States
  • 10-30-13

Reluctant Assassin

Meet Gabriel Allon, reluctant assassin. "The Kill Artist," published in 2000, introduces us to Daniel Silva's popular Gabriel Allon series. Yes, the series gets better as it progresses: "The Kill Artist" is not its best entry. In fact, I think that each entry gets better than the last one, reflecting the growing skill of the author. None-the-less, I still recommend that anyone wishing to listen to the subsequent Gabriel Allon novels should start here, with "The Kill Artist," and then listen to the novels in sequence. The Gabriel Allon character has a lot of complexity, as do the plots of all his adventures. Although Daniel Silva does a good job summarizing all that you need to know for each successive episode, you will still miss out on the richness of this series if you pick it up in the middle. (In fact, I did just that, not knowing any better at the time. Now, I am enjoying going back and listening to the series in the proper order ... and getting so much more out of it than I did the first time 'round.)

Author Daniel Silva is a pretty complex character, himself. Raised in a devoutly Catholic family, he converted to Judaism in adulthood, as a result of his marriage. Now he writes compelling novels about an Israeli Mossad assassin (although, curiously, the Mossad is never mentioned in any of his Gabriel Allon novels -- it is just called "the Office"), in which we learn more than we may have ever wanted to know about the Holocaust, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, international politics, and recent world history. Whether or not these novels suit one's taste in fiction, one cannot deny the deep, penetrating intelligence and profound, cynical knowledge of world events and human nature that emanates from all of Daniel Silva's novels. As some previous reviewers have noted, "The Kill Artist" has some pretty dark aspects to it -- don't buy it for light escape fiction -- but it does offer some intriguing, disturbing, and surprisingly fair-minded insights into current headlines and the human psychology behind them.

George Guidall, as always, does an excellent job narrating "The Kill Artist." He has a lovely, warm, mature voice, that he can adapt into many different characters, including female characters. Although he draws some of his accents from his "generic" bag, he uses a pretty credible French accent for this audiobook.

36 of 38 people found this review helpful

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An Assassin with a conscience

I have had this book on my shelf for some time now and decided to see for myself if Daniel Silva's Israeli assassin, Gabriel Allon, was as good as I have heard. I can honestly say that Gabriel did not fit into my image of an assassin.

As the story begins, a mysterious stranger moves into a old cottage in an isolated English village, Port Navas Cornwall. The first chapter is told from the viewpoint of Peel, a boy of around 10, who had also recently moved to the village with his mother. Therefore, it takes several chapters to find out the stranger is Gabriel Allon.

Gabriel was a world renowned art restorer, the cover job he had in order to hide the fact that he worked for the Israeli intelligence service. However, he "retired" from the clandestine service nearly 10 years previously when a terrorist he was contracted to take out placed a bomb under his car, killing his son and turning his wife into an empty shell. After that, Gabriel went into a self imposed exile and immersed himself into restoring paintings in the hope of forgetting the past.

Then the Israeli ambassador and his wife are killed by terrorists in Paris, and Ari Shamron, head of the intelligence service, discovers the assassin was none other than Tariq, the Palestinian who destroyed Gabriel's family. Shamron trusts no one, and secretly goes to England to bring Gabriel back for one more mission. Gabriel can not refuse, even though he knows killing Tariq will not bring his family back.

In other novels featuring assassins, they tend to be cold and calculating, justifying their actions by believing the target deserved to die for their transgressions. Gabriel, however, has flashbacks and feels guilty for what he has done. Benjamin Stone, a wealthy backer of the Israeli operation, describes Gabriel as "an assassin with a conscience."

Given all the baggage Gabriel is carrying around, I had my doubts as to whether he would be an effective assassin. Add in the fact that he has been inactive for nearly 10 years and he was at a distinct disadvantage.

I thought the book started out slowly, but it gradually picked up its pace before finally reaching its climax. But even after the climax, there were more plot twists which tied the story into a neat little ball. Gabriel seemed to enjoy restoring paintings much more than his other line of work. Therefor, this is not the typical testosterone filled prose that one would associate with a story about an assassin, but rather paints a softer, more human side of the occupation.

There are several more books in the series, so I am anxious to find out what would bring him out of retirement again

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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For those wondering...

What James Bond would be like if he were written by Charles Dickens look no further.

A retired Israeli agent is coerced into service in order to take down his arch nemesis. He whines throughout the book and has to be rescued by his ex-girlfriend at literally every turn.

How this spawned a series is beyond me.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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why didn't i enjoy this book more?

I can't quite put my finger on the problem. I expected to become fully engaged by the story and enthralled by the narration, but it just didn't happen.

The story should have elicited some excitement, suspense, tension, but it just seem to drone on. George Guidall is one of the best readers in the business but perhaps his voice is now too soft to narrate a thriller or perhaps even the great Guidall couldn't instill life into this story. Either way, this listen was a bit of a disappointment.

This is the second Daniel Silva I've downloaded - I also listened to Death in Vienna - and it was the author's second chance because I do love spy/thrillers. Still, there are better books out there and better ways to spend a credit. Keep looking. Don't settle for merely OK.

18 of 21 people found this review helpful

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A poor showing by a good author

Would you try another book from Daniel Silva and/or George Guidall?

I listened to a newer work by Silva and loved it. So I went back to the beginning and was horribly disappointed.

What was most disappointing about Daniel Silva’s story?

Sliva uses constant profanity to try and demonstrate the tough grittiness of his characters. Simply showing us who they are would be much more effective. The constant use of "F***" as well as the excessive sexuality distract from and weaken the story line to the point that I finally quit listening half way through.

What does George Guidall bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

George Guidall gives a fine performance and is easy to listen to. He is one of the better readers I have heard. His voicing for various characters is appropriate, consistent and well done. Silva's story lines move rapidly from character to character and Guidall's voicing of various characters makes the action easier to follow.

Any additional comments?

I am glad that I listened to a more recent Silva novel first. Silva has learned how to richly develop a hard, gritty character without resorting to trite use of profanity and obscenity. Unfortunately he didn't learn this early enough in life to save this book.

31 of 39 people found this review helpful

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  • Wayne
  • Matthews, NC
  • 05-11-16

Excellent start to a great espionage series!

Before releasing The Kill Artist and thus beginning the great 15 novel Gabriel Allon series in the year 2000 Daniel Silva, an ex journalist, released three earlier novels.

The Kill Artist begins after a car bomb planted by a terrorist kills Gabriel Allon's young son and nearly kills his wife, leaving her a physical and mental/emotional invalid who must be institutionalized for the rest of her life. Allon has two occupations: The top art restorer in the world and the top assassin for a secret Israeli security organization known only as The Office. In the Kill Artist Allon and The Office seek to bring the man who destroyed the lives of Allon's family in Vienna to justice.

Protagonists in great espionage thrillers are all different. Gabriel Allon is the most reluctant. On a "humanity scale" Allon is the must human in terms of emotion and reluctance to kill. On the other end of the scale would be British author Tom Wood's Victor the Assassin who is totally devoid of humanity.

All of the Gabriel Allon novels are excellent (4 or more star), but they are not all consistently 5 star. Part of that is due to inconsistent narration. George Guidall narrates The Kill Artist as well as all of the series beginning with book 12. Guidall is wonderful. Books 2 - 11 used 4 different narrators some of whom are not nearly as good as Guidall.

Book 16 of the Gabriel Allon series, The Black Widow, is now available for pre-order at Audible.

I highly recommend The Kill Artist and all of Daniel Silva's novels in the Gabriel Allon series without reservation to all who enjoy great espionage thriller series.

9 of 11 people found this review helpful

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  • Tim
  • Jupiter, FL, United States
  • 07-04-17

I coldn't stay with the story

I made it through 13 chapters thinking it would get better. Maybe it is the english accents, more likely it is the story going so many directions I found it distracting. I got bored, instead of visualizing the story as it progressed... I would be off thinking of other things and find I'd missed sections. Point is, the people and story just isn't that interesting, although it had promise. Maybe there is just to much background story that isn't that interesting.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Good Spy Novel

I like and have read most of the Gabriel Allon novels, and returned to this one just because it's been awhile.

It is a little on the dark side, but all in all a good book. Allon is a little too "super duper" but I'll take that to the modern anti-hero so popular in other such novels.

8 of 10 people found this review helpful

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  • David
  • Indiana United States
  • 11-20-13

Good stuff for book 1

What did you love best about The Kill Artist?

Great story, great build of characters.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Gabrielle. Listen, you'll understand.

Which scene was your favorite?

Too many.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

The turn about of the informant. Didn't see that coming.

Any additional comments?

George Guidall makes this book more enjoyable.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jane
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • 09-20-13

Felt like things had been done before.

Nothing grabbed me. The story was ok but several minor things bothered me, so I’ll list them below.

When I finished this I thought huh, the hero didn’t do anything heroic and he did not solve the bad guy problem. The good action was done by another. Ok, but that kind of let me down - not much hero development here.

Throughout the book the good guys were not doing smart things which made it less fun to root for them. In a few scenes the bad guys came out ahead due to luck. For example: the bad guy dresses as a waiter to get into a meeting of dignitaries. The front door guard let him in even though his name was not on the list - because the bad guy said they told me they needed extra staff. A guard let him into a private room because the bad guy said one of the top aids told me to bring this food. When the bad guy was in the kitchen, the boss of the waiters gave him work to do. The boss should have known who his employees were. He paid them. The boss did not even ask where he came from. This was too easy - using luck.

I was disappointed the following was not shown. A woman was being trained as an agent. She was told to figure out who was following her. She reported three people and was wrong. Next time she reported three people and was right. I wanted to see what she saw and why she concluded what she did.

Because a woman loved Gabriel she did amazing things for him. I wanted to see him reciprocate some kind of feeling for her, but he showed no feelings. That was a let down. It made him less sympathetic.

Something unexpected was revealed at the end. It was quickly told. It was a neat surprise. The details behind that could have been a good story. Not required but I wanted to know more.

I did not care for the narrator George Guidall. He made Gabriel the hero sound like a clerk or librarian. It didn’t fit the sexy macho agent. And he made the bad guy sound wimpy. Other parts were ok, but overall his voice was not as good for me as other narrators.

Genre: spy suspense thriller

13 of 19 people found this review helpful