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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Loved this book. I've not read anything anywhere near as good as this since I used to read "Ian Flemming". I actually lost quite a bit of sleep over several nights as I couldn't put the book down. Very low brow - hardly a taxing read, but with a gripping style that's perfect for a poolside read on holiday.

Best of all the characters are fairly three dimensional, and by the middle of the book you actually start to care about their survival, and that they will reach their aims.

Highly recommended escapism. Can't wait for the film franchise to pick it up.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The spy novel genre hasn't been the same since the cold war ended. Magnificent fictional forays and counter-forays of east and west against one another with the fate of the world in the balance provided marvelous drama that led to wonderful plots, seat-squirming suspense, and intense emotional involvement with the characters. Many have tried to resurrect the spy novel genre with modern-day terror and antiterrorist activities. In most cases, these stories don't carry the same weight. It's as though we know the tales are too fanciful to be real.

In the Messenger, Daniel Silva has recaptured some of the zest of the cold war spy stories in an intense tale of an innocent sent out among the lethal to identify a terrorist leader. You'll easily find yourself imagining that you are Sarah Bancroft, a curator at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., who is recruited to infiltrate a terrorist-supporting Saudi billionaire's entourage.

The plot is quite a complex one. Gabriel Allon has been retired from spying while he quietly pursues his profession of art restorer. Israeli intelligence is checking out a terror suspect when the man is accidentally killed, leaving his laptop computer to be accessed. From the images, the Israelis conclude that the Vatican is a target. Allon is brought in to see what can be done to avoid an attack. Soon, events roll into motion that require more than prevention at the Vatican as the Israelis target a former Saudi official who seems to be running terror networks. Sarah Bancroft is recruited, and the hunt is on. Time is of the essence. Can they identify the target before the terrorists identify Sarah's true allegiances?

The book's main weakness is that connecting the book's opening to the rest of the series takes up a lot of space. If you've read the other books, you don't need that much background. If you haven't read the other books, it's still too much. Then, the development of the spy gambit takes awhile to get off the ground. As a result, not much of the good material in the book occurs before page 110. But stick around. If you are patient with the opening, you'll be pleased with the rest, especially after page 162.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Gabriel Allon is a man who never sleeps, who crosses time-zones as if he were going to the shops, changes his appearance as if he were the master of disguise, spends time painting or restoring masterpieces and, when he has a moment, saves the Pope from an uncertain journey to the afterlife - twice.

If you think all this is too far-fetched, you haven't read Silva's earlier books. But now Allon is older, though not necessarily wiser, he still manages to kill off a few fundamentalists - well a lot, really but yet still they come, leaving room for further stories in the same vein.

As the holiday season approaches, these are books to take with you. Action-packed, hitting the spot for many people, pushing the case for a continuing remembrance of the persecution of the Jews and yet, one can't help liking the man. At some point, Allon will have to slow down and take a back seat. To a certain extent, this is now happening and, for me, because of that, the story slows down, too. Unfortunately, so far, there is no-one waiting in the wings for whom the reader has any empathy, so it remains to be seen how the author will cope with this. Up to and including this book, Silva's novels all follow the same path, the targets are the same, only the names have changed. With the Cold War long gone, the opportunities for a relentless pursuit of the bad guys is only ever going to lead in one direction.

Maybe next time, Allon may face up to Chechen terrorists, Georgian separatists, Chinese triads - anybody really to give the reader some variety. In the meantime, we have to deal with certain elements in Saudi Arabia, long-believed to be at the centre of fundamental terrorism. If only it were so easy to get rid of them. But it is the nature of stories that you suspend disbelief and just settle down to enjoy the read.

Silva writes very well; for his fans - and there are many, myself included, you are sure of a decent thriller. For new readers, although the book can stand alone, I think you do need knowledge of what has happened in earlier books. As with most of us who find themselves older than they realised, it takes a while to get going in the morning. This book is similar but once the action starts, Silva is back on form. I eagerly await the next outing, assuming Allon has not gone off to live a life of domestic bliss. Unlikely.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
The spy novel genre hasn't been the same since the cold war ended. Magnificent fictional forays and counter-forays of east and west against one another with the fate of the world in the balance provided marvelous drama that led to wonderful plots, seat-squirming suspense, and intense emotional involvement with the characters. Many have tried to resurrect the spy novel genre with modern-day terror and antiterrorist activities. In most cases, these stories don't carry the same weight. It's as though we know the tales are too fanciful to be real.

In the Messenger, Daniel Silva has recaptured some of the zest of the cold war spy stories in an intense tale of an innocent sent out among the lethal to identify a terrorist leader. You'll easily find yourself imagining that you are Sarah Bancroft, a curator at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., who is recruited to infiltrate a terrorist-supporting Saudi billionaire's entourage.

The plot is quite a complex one. Gabriel Allon has been retired from spying while he quietly pursues his profession of art restorer. Israeli intelligence is checking out a terror suspect when the man is accidentally killed, leaving his laptop computer to be accessed. From the images, the Israelis conclude that the Vatican is a target. Allon is brought in to see what can be done to avoid an attack. Soon, events roll into motion that require more than prevention at the Vatican as the Israelis target a former Saudi official who seems to be running terror networks. Sarah Bancroft is recruited, and the hunt is on. Time is of the essence. Can they identify the target before the terrorists identify Sarah's true allegiances?

The book's main weakness is that connecting the book's opening to the rest of the series takes up a lot of space. If you've read the other books, you don't need that much background. If you haven't read the other books, it's still too much. Then, the development of the spy gambit takes awhile to get off the ground. As a result, not much of the good material in the book occurs before page 110. But stick around. If you are patient with the opening, you'll be pleased with the rest, especially after page 162.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
The Messenger is the latest in the long running series of novels starring Israeli spy/assassin/art restorer Gabriel Allon, and it far from the best.

That's not to say that its a bad book. Its a well paced, exciting contemporary thriller There are even some improvements on previous Allon novels, such as a reduction in the overt one dimensional pro-Israeli bias that afflicted Prince of Fire in particular. On the whole however, whilst there is nothing fundamentally wrong with The Messenger it feels like the author, Daniel Silva, is coasting. The plot lacks the compelling hook of previous Allon novels and is slight and tends towards the formulaic by comparison. The page turning intensity isn't quite there either; or at least not to extent we're used to.

Whether this is simply due to the author having and off-period or for some deeper seated reason is impossible to tell. There is however, a feeling that the character of Gabriel Allon has run his course as a lead protagonist. Relegated by circumstances to the role of senior man, manager and coordinator rather than solo agent, he is reduced to an observer on the sidelines for much of the latter half of the book. Since he still remains the novel's focus whilst being able to do little more than brood it reduces the level of excitement the story engenders as it unfolds.

In this respect Silva has encountered the same problem that has afflicted authors such as Tom Clancy, Dale Brown and Stephen Coonts; namely that when you have a recurring lead he or she must inevitably age and with that process is forced to become less of the action hero and potentially less interesting as a result. In these circumstances an author must decide to either retire a character or develop him or her in new but still interesting ways to prevent a series becoming stale. With The Messenger it would appear that Silva has not yet decided what to do with Allon and as a consequence the book feels like the series treading water. It will be interesting to see if it stays that way with the next book or whether Silva finds a new and entertaining direction to propel Allon and his career in.

In the meantime for fans of the series The Messenger has much to recommend it. Just don't expect the wholly compelling, unputdownable read you're used to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
TOP 100 REVIEWERon 12 August 2010
After an al-Qaeda recruiter is killed in London, Israeli intelligence officer and sometime art restorer Gabriel Allon is brought in to foil at attack on the Vatican. Uncovering a trail linking Saudi oil money to Arab terror groups, a group is pulled together to remove a most dangerous enemy.

This is a tough contemporary thriller with an air of authenticity about it. Silva doesn't hide his own allegiances and does make issues rather black and white with none of the shades of grey which make le Carré's books, for example, so morally compelling.

Gabriel himself is given a back history which makes him one of the Israeli officers who took revenge for the Munich Olympic massacre and so there is an inevitable comparison with the lead character of Spielberg's Munich [DVD] [2005]: but again, where that film refused any easy or comfortable moral positions, the ethics of state-sanctioned killing aren't at stake here.

So this is a well-written and plotted book but the author's own fixed political position may be an uncomfortable one for some readers.
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With Saudi "businessmen" of almost unimaginable wealth supporting and financing Al Quaeda terrorists, anything can be bought, including lives. In what is arguably Silva's strongest novel, the Vatican is attacked, St. Peter's Basilica is bombed, the Pope and his aides are threatened and shot at, and dozens of people are killed. Gabriel Allon, an art restorer who has a secret life as an assassin and intelligence operative for the Israeli security services, has warned his long-time friend Msgr. Luigi Donati, private secretary to the Pope, of the attack, but he is not quite in time. Working with the Vatican, US intelligence agencies, and Israel in the aftermath of the carnage, Allon works to track down the leader of the cell and his money supply to prevent further massacres.

Saudis, including one of the princes, have masterminded and funded the attack, hiding behind a multi-national corporation with many different businesses which allow them move men and materiel across borders and into position as terrorists. Allon's tracking of the killers tells him it is only a matter of time before another similar attack is launched.

The moneyman behind the terrorism is also a collector of the rarest impressionist paintings, and Allon uses his connections in the art world to interest the Saudi in a never-before-exhibited Van Gogh painting. He also attempts to penetrate the man's inner circle--by employing a beautiful American art expert, Sarah Bancroft, to be curator of his art collection and provide them with information. As the moves and countermoves play out, Allon and his fellow agents travel throughout Europe and the Caribbean, following the terrorists and their money, while trying to protect their very vulnerable plant inside the Saudi operation.

Silva is a master at keeping suspense high. Allon, as a secret agent, is free to take whatever means are necessary, including multiple murders, to prevent the spilling of even more innocent blood. As Sarah Bancroft's position within the Saudi inner circle becomes increasingly tenuous and eventually leads to violence, the body count rises. Silva's depiction of torture and mayhem takes on an almost clinical detachment, creating even more horror in the mind of the reader, and his vision of sadistic killers who enjoy the game of death is terrifying. Carefully constructed to take into account the latest information about Al Quaeda and its tentacles in all aspects of western business and social life, this dramatic novel from 2006 shows with terrifying accuracy the lengths to which terrorists are willing to go in the name of jihad--and the lengths to which intelligence agencies may have to go in the name of self-defense. n Mary Whipple

Moscow Rules, 2008
The Secret Servant (Gabriel Allon), 2007
Prince of Fire, 2005
A Death in Vienna, 2004
The Confessor, 2003
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The spy novel genre hasn't been the same since the cold war ended. Magnificent fictional forays and counter-forays of east and west against one another with the fate of the world in the balance provided marvelous drama that led to wonderful plots, seat-squirming suspense, and intense emotional involvement with the characters. Many have tried to resurrect the spy novel genre with modern-day terror and antiterrorist activities. In most cases, these stories don't carry the same weight. It's as though we know the tales are too fanciful to be real.

In the Messenger, Daniel Silva has recaptured some of the zest of the cold war spy stories in an intense tale of an innocent sent out among the lethal to identify a terrorist leader. You'll easily find yourself imagining that you are Sarah Bancroft, a curator at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., who is recruited to infiltrate a terrorist-supporting Saudi billionaire's entourage.

The plot is quite a complex one. Gabriel Allon has been retired from spying while he quietly pursues his profession of art restorer. Israeli intelligence is checking out a terror suspect when the man is accidentally killed, leaving his laptop computer to be accessed. From the images, the Israelis conclude that the Vatican is a target. Allon is brought in to see what can be done to avoid an attack. Soon, events roll into motion that require more than prevention at the Vatican as the Israelis target a former Saudi official who seems to be running terror networks. Sarah Bancroft is recruited, and the hunt is on. Time is of the essence. Can they identify the target before the terrorists identify Sarah's true allegiances?

The book's main weakness is that connecting the book's opening to the rest of the series takes up a lot of space. If you've read the other books, you don't need that much background. If you haven't read the other books, it's still too much. Then, the development of the spy gambit takes awhile to get off the ground. As a result, not much of the good material in the book occurs before page 110. But stick around. If you are patient with the opening, you'll be pleased with the rest, especially after page 162.
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The spy novel genre hasn't been the same since the cold war ended. Magnificent fictional forays and counter-forays of east and west against one another with the fate of the world in the balance provided marvelous drama that led to wonderful plots, seat-squirming suspense, and intense emotional involvement with the characters. Many have tried to resurrect the spy novel genre with modern-day terror and antiterrorist activities. In most cases, these stories don't carry the same weight. It's as though we know the tales are too fanciful to be real.

In the Messenger, Daniel Silva has recaptured some of the zest of the cold war spy stories in an intense tale of an innocent sent out among the lethal to identify a terrorist leader. You'll easily find yourself imagining that you are Sarah Bancroft, a curator at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., who is recruited to infiltrate a terrorist-supporting Saudi billionaire's entourage.

The plot is quite a complex one. Gabriel Allon has been retired from spying while he quietly pursues his profession of art restorer. Israeli intelligence is checking out a terror suspect when the man is accidentally killed, leaving his laptop computer to be accessed. From the images, the Israelis conclude that the Vatican is a target. Allon is brought in to see what can be done to avoid an attack. Soon, events roll into motion that require more than prevention at the Vatican as the Israelis target a former Saudi official who seems to be running terror networks. Sarah Bancroft is recruited, and the hunt is on. Time is of the essence. Can they identify the target before the terrorists identify Sarah's true allegiances?

The book's main weakness is that connecting the book's opening to the rest of the series takes up a lot of space. If you've read the other books, you don't need that much background. If you haven't read the other books, it's still too much. Then, the development of the spy gambit takes awhile to get off the ground. As a result, not much of the good material in the book occurs before page 110. But stick around. If you are patient with the opening, you'll be pleased with the rest, especially after page 162.
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The spy novel genre hasn't been the same since the cold war ended. Magnificent fictional forays and counter-forays of east and west against one another with the fate of the world in the balance provided marvelous drama that led to wonderful plots, seat-squirming suspense, and intense emotional involvement with the characters. Many have tried to resurrect the spy novel genre with modern-day terror and antiterrorist activities. In most cases, these stories don't carry the same weight. It's as though we know the tales are too fanciful to be real.

In the Messenger, Daniel Silva has recaptured some of the zest of the cold war spy stories in an intense tale of an innocent sent out among the lethal to identify a terrorist leader. You'll easily find yourself imagining that you are Sarah Bancroft, a curator at the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C., who is recruited to infiltrate a terrorist-supporting Saudi billionaire's entourage.

The plot is quite a complex one. Gabriel Allon has been retired from spying while he quietly pursues his profession of art restorer. Israeli intelligence is checking out a terror suspect when the man is accidentally killed, leaving his laptop computer to be accessed. From the images, the Israelis conclude that the Vatican is a target. Allon is brought in to see what can be done to avoid an attack. Soon, events roll into motion that require more than prevention at the Vatican as the Israelis target a former Saudi official who seems to be running terror networks. Sarah Bancroft is recruited, and the hunt is on. Time is of the essence. Can they identify the target before the terrorists identify Sarah's true allegiances?

The book's main weakness is that connecting the book's opening to the rest of the series takes up a lot of space. If you've read the other books, you don't need that much background. If you haven't read the other books, it's still too much. Then, the development of the spy gambit takes awhile to get off the ground. As a result, not much of the good material in the book occurs before page 110. But stick around. If you are patient with the opening, you'll be pleased with the rest, especially after page 162.
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