THE REMBRANDT AFFAIR by Daniel Silva
“Gabriel had been cursed with an exaggerated sense of right and wrong. His greatest professional triumphs as an intelligence officer had not come by way of the gun but through his unyielding will to expose past wrongs and make them right.”
Review by Eleanor Bukowsky (AUG 8, 2010)
As Daniel Silva’s The Rembrandt Affair opens, Gabriel Allon, expert art restorer and former Israeli intelligence agent, is enjoying a well-earned vacation in Cornwall, England, with his beautiful wife, Chiara. Alas, he will be soon be dragged out of retirement because of a missing painting, a series of outrageous thefts dating back to World War II, and an international financier with a great deal to hide. The work of art is a striking portrait of Rembrandt’s mistress, which was once owned by a Dutch Jew. It subsequently passed through a number of hands until it suddenly resurfaced and was put up for sale.
Julian Isherwood, proprietor of Isherwood Fine Arts, was planning to have the forty-five million dollar painting restored before its unveiling with great fanfare at Washington’s National Gallery. Unfortunately, a thief has absconded with the Rembrandt and Julian is beside himself. In despair, he turns to his old friend and colleague, Gabriel Allon. Although his immediate reaction is to reject Isherwood’s plea, Gabriel confers with Chiara who urges her husband to look into the matter. While checking the painting’s provenance, he makes some startling discoveries that broaden the case’s scope and importance. “Cursed with an exaggerated sense of right and wrong,” Gabriel is “a restorer in the truest sense of the word.” He not only repairs paintings. He also exposes misdeeds and tries to restore justice to a world where it is sometimes little more than a lofty concept.
This is Silva’s finest novel since The Prince of Fire. The author brilliantly and seamlessly explores such themes as the lucrative world of art theft, the tragic fate of Jews living in Holland after Hitler’s invasion, international smuggling of sensitive equipment to rogue regimes for profit, and the ways in which Israel, England, and the United States reluctantly work together to protect their vital interests. There is the usual tradecraft, including surveillance, safe houses, and interception of communication and computer data, but the personalities take center stage. They include Lena Herzfeld, a survivor of the Holocaust who is wracked by guilt and agonizing memories; Zoe Reed, a prominent and attractive investigative journalist who may be the ideal person to assist Allon; Alfonso Ramirez, a fiery Argentinean human rights activist and dissident; Maurice Durand, a disciplined art thief with a conscience; Paul Voss, the son of a vicious and unrepentant Nazi; and Martin Landesmann, a philanthropic billionaire whose “shiny image is nothing but a carefully constructed cover” designed to hide his corrupt business dealings.
One of the qualities that set The Rembrandt Affair apart is its careful construction and restraint. For all of its length, complexity, and variety of settings (England, America, Holland, Switzerland, France, Israel, and Argentina) this is a well-researched, lucid, and logical book. The dialogue is lively and natural, and there are a number of eloquent and exceptionally moving passages. This perfectly paced, timely, and suspenseful story moves briskly towards its nicely calibrated conclusion–one that is free of over-the-top theatrics and melodrama. Although there are episodes of violence, they do not dominate the narrative. This is a literate, enlightening, witty, and entertaining work of fiction that will delight Daniel Silva’s ardent fans and earn him a legion of new admirers.
|AMAZON READER RATING:||from 357 readers|
|PUBLISHER:||Putnam Adult; First Edition edition (July 20, 2010)|
|AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK?||YES! Start Reading Now!|
|AUTHOR WEBSITE:||Daniel Silva|
|MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION:||Read our review of:|
- The Unlikely Spy (1996)
Michael Osbourne series:
Gabriel Allon series:
- The Kill Artist (2000)
- The English Assassin (2002)
- The Confessor (2003)
- A Death in Vienna (2004)
- Prince of Fire (2005)
- The Messenger (2006)
- The Secret Servant (2007)
- Moscow Rules (2008)
- The Defector (2009)
- The Rembrandt Affair (2010)
- Portrait of a Spy (2011)
- The Fallen Angel (2012)
- The English Girl (July 2013)