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"He was no one, lived nowhere...the eternal wandering Jew"
on 23 February 2005
In his fourth novel-adventure, art restorer Gabriel Allon is recalled to action by the Israeli intelligence service for which he once worked. A massive truck bomb at the Israeli embassy in Rome and the shooting of fleeing victims has left fifty-two dead. When the Israelis obtain a computer disk from the terrorists' house outside of Milan, they discover recent photos of Gabriel Allon and his lover, notes about his real identity, and details of his sanctioned killing of Black September members, along with the second in command in the PLO. Yassir Arafat himself ordered reprisals against Allon, which resulted in the deaths of Allon's wife and son in a car bombing.
Believing the Rome bombing to be connected to the bombings of a Jewish Community Center in Buenos Aires in 1994 and the bombing of Istanbul's main synagogue in 2003, Allon and his mentor, Ari Shamron, an advisor to the prime minister of Israel, soon focus on three generations of a single family. Sheikh Asad led the Arab Revolt in 1936, unleashing deadly attacks all over Israel, until he was assassinated on orders of Yitzhak Rabin. The Sheik's son, Sabri, a friend of Yassir Arafat, accepted his father's terrorist mantle, until he was eliminated. Sabri's orphaned son, young Khaled, adopted by Yassir Arafat, is believed to be behind the recent spate of bombings of Jewish buildings around the world. Allon is now assigned to find and execute him.
The novel, the fourth in the Allon series, is filled with familiar main characters from the past, both in Allon's personal life and in his life as part of the Israeli security service. These familiar "faces" and the numerous references to Allon's previous adventures add depth and important historical background to this novel. The past relationships of characters and their interconnections are written clearly so new readers will not become confused, as Allon and Shamron try to find Khaled and prevent another attack, this time in France.
Silva is a particularly efficient novelist, writing in an exciting narrative style which keeps the tension high while he explores contemporary issues. He is a master at juggling subplots and developing his characters, especially his flawed main character, Gabriel Allon. His inclusion of real people, such as Itzhak Rabin and Yassir Arafat, gives immediacy to the action, and his background information on the continuing war between the Arabs and Jews for the land in Palestine gives a sense of context to this long-standing enmity. Beautifully paced, the novel offers glimpses of life in contemporary Israel and the historic reasons for the violence there. Mary Whipple