I have been reading Daniel Silva for as long as he’s been writing novels. His characters pop and crackle on the page. His stories seem so realistic that I must remind myself that they are just that: stories.
THE HEIST, by Daniel Silva, is nothing short of phenomenal! It is his best work to date. And that is a huge statement since each novel has been unique and marvelous. But there is something very special about THE HEIST. Yes, my friends are all back. And that makes my heart swell with happiness. Silva has managed to bring these people to life, has given them a purpose like no other, and keeps bringing them back each year. And I find I get deeper into who they are with each novel. I love this about Silva’s writing.
The world we live in today is one full of war, fear, terror and terrorists, and monumental problems. THE HEIST has all of this, and then some. Silva is the master at using current events to move his stories along. But what he’s done this time is simply amazing. If I did not know better, I would believe everything he has written is true. Do not miss the Author’s Note at the end of the book!
Silva has us following Gabriel Allon to even more exotic locales than usual, and that is saying a mouthful. The story begins in London, where Julian Isherwood decides to visit Lake Como. It has to do with some very important art work and a very unreliable art associate. Then Isherwood finds a dead body. This puts Isherwood in a predicament that only one person might be able to help him out of.
We then move to Venice where Gabriel Allon is busy at work restoring an altarpiece in the Church of San Sebastiano: Virgin and Child in Glory with Saints by Paolo Veronese. You see, Gabriel is an amazing art restorer as well as an operative for the Israeli Intelligence. When Gabriel receives a visit from General Cesare Ferrari who is the head of the Art Squad, he finds that his friend Julian Isherwood has gotten himself in a pot of trouble. So off he goes to help him out.
Of course there is a famous painting to recover. We find that Caravaggio’s Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence has been stolen. And Gabriel is going after it. What we discover is that there is much more to the loss of this art work than initially meets the eye. This is when this novel begins to climb into another realm. This is where the tragedy of mass proportions in Syria comes into place. I remember hearing about the massacres in Syria many years ago. I know of the Butcher Boy. But only vaguely, until this novel.
I’ve read quite a bit about World War Two. I know art work played a big part in the war. Stolen art work, I should say. Hitler made sure that any master works of art he could get his hands on were hidden away: stolen. So, when Gabriel Allon comes across a mass of stolen art work in THE HEIST, I had an aha moment, or two. This time it’s not Hitler, but it’s someone just as horrific.
When a simplistic woman who is working in a small private bank in Austria gets involved in the story, THE HEIST quickly becomes even more of a page-turner. Jihan Nawaz was born in Syria. Her entire family was slaughtered in a masacre in Syria in 1982. She immigrated alone to Germany and became a citizen. This masacre actually occurred.
We have entered the underworld of stolen art and money. And the plot thickens and percolates until the pressure is overwhelming. When you find out what is going on behind the scenes it will be as if the dark side of the moon has finally lightened. And you will be amazed at how we can live in a world today and have this sort of travesty continue.
All the places are richly drawn. But I was especially drawn to the scenes in Venice. We visited Venice a few years ago. We chose to stay in the Cannaregio area of the city known as the Jewish section. We found it a bit quieter; less touristy. And lovely.
This is THE thriller to pick up this summer. Do not miss it. It’s sophisticated, entertaining, and will give you spot-on art history lessons as well as a frightening insight into what is happening around the world.
Daniel Silva is the author of 14 NYT best-selling novels. He serves on the board of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council and lives in Florida with his wife, Jamie Gangel, and their two children.Thanks go out to Leah at Harper Collins for so generously sending me my review copy. I can’t thank you enough. You already know how much I loved THE HEIST!
The photo below was taken about ten years ago at a book signing at the B&N in Naples, Florida.