Top critical review
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on 25 June 2012
Considered to be a legend among his peers, Gabriel Allon is a former Israeli secret service field agent, who had retired ten years before this novel takes place, after his family was victim of a terrorist bombing.
After several setbacks which compromised Mossad's reputation, Allon's mentor Ari Shamron asks him to return to the field, to lead a hit on Tariq, a Palestinian assassin, whose objective is to abort the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
"The Kill Artist" does a good job on depicting the complexity of a conflict in which both parties claim legitimacy but committed actions beyond any moral standards. There is also a particular focus on how the agents on both sides are backed by a network of civil supporters and how recruiting is done, making this novel very interesting on a broader scope. There are also some thrilling action scenes, and Tariq and Shamron are interesting characters.
However, character and plot wise, there are some faults. Allon isn't an engaging character and seemed to be always one step behind, which is something I would not expect from a legendary agent. Sometimes his instincts are useful, but those years of retirement made him more like a burden than an asset. Also, the ending could have been better explained, as some key decisions made by some characters didn't make much sense to me.
+: Tariq's chapters; the main characters' background is much more interesting than what they're doing on the present time
-: Allon as an agent was disappointing; characters like Isherwood and Peel had too much attention from the author, adding close to nothing to the plot
=: Good enough to convince me reading the next book of the series