THE HEIST by Daniel Silva

The Heist
Daniel Silva
Harper Collins
July 2014

Like his previous two books, The Heist by Daniel Silva is both a crime mystery and an espionage thriller. This novel begins with a murder investigation surrounding a stolen painting and becomes a quest to hunt down the hidden assets of a Middle Eastern ruler. Once again the hero Gabriel Allon displays his many talents as an art restorer, investigator, and Israeli intelligence operative.

The plot begins with Allon attempting to save a friend from jail and embarrassment, by agreeing to recover the most famous painting in the world, Caravaggio’s Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence. While on this search he discovers multiple murders and a tie to a brutal Arab dictator. Gabriel seeks the help of a German naturalized citizen, Jihan Nawaz, whose family was the victim of a major massacre, in an attempt to hinder the Syrian ruler.

Silva has created Gabriel Allon as a complex personality, which makes him more believable, relatable, and realistic. He sometimes miscalculates, makes mistakes, and allows himself to be haunted by the loss of his loved ones. Although Silva writes the character with some flaws overall he is a seen as an incredibly gifted, very smart, passionate, and courageous person.

One of the most powerful scenes in the book is when Gabriel visits his first wife, Leah, who was scarred emotionally and physically by a terrorist bombing. It is heart wrenching to read Leah’s struggles with post- traumatic stress, psychotic depression, and becoming a prisoner to the past. Once again Silva brilliantly shows through very powerful words the cruelty of terrorists. He has Leah stating, “The snow absolves Vienna of its sins. The snow falls on Vienna while the missiles rain down on Tel Aviv.”

As with all Gabriel Allon books there is always commentary about the current situation in the Middle East and the impact it has on the Jewish State. Readers are reminded of the constant existential threat to Israel’s survival with the civil wars in Egypt and Syria, Al Qaeda’s re-emergence from Fallujah Iraq to Eastern Syria, and a Hamas-Palestinian reunion on its border. Gabriel questions if Israel will ever be able to live peacefully with its Arab neighbors.

The Heist is not just a spy thriller but is also an art history novel. The plot line is action packed but also allows readers to learn more about famous paintings and artists. With Allon’s diverse cast of co-workers from Israel and England, Silva has weaved together a story with intrigue, insight, and suspense.

Elise Cooper