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
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 seen as
an incredibly gifted, highly intelligent, passionate and courageous
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.”
Silva commented, “That quote is something Leah said
in the very first novel, before she was severely wounded in
a bombing. Here she was in Vienna, the country that produced
Hitler, the Nazi leadership, and the Nazi machinery. She looked
out and saw a beautiful snowy night in Vienna while on the
TV she saw missiles raining down on Tel Aviv during the first
Gulf War. We must remember that for every one of the attacks
during the Intifada there were survivors who lost limbs, eyes,
and/or were badly burned. Leah represents something very important:
Gabriel is an art restorer and can fix just about anything
except her. It is very painful for him that he can never make
As with all Gabriel Allon books there is 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.
Silva noted, “In its early days Israel had to face hostile
Arab nation states. What we have now is what he would call
AlQaedastan, a non-state actor and a belt of Sunni extremism.
If they get WMDs they could inflict devastating blows to Israel.
He is distressed over it because he feels these groups will
eventually turn their attention to Israel, and is very pessimistic
about ever having peace. Just look at what is happening today
where three Israeli Jewish children were kidnapped and brutally
murdered by Hamas operatives. Then apparently we had six Jews
murder a Palestinian child. Gabriel worries that this could
escalate quickly with a devastating outcome, since the Palestinians
cheered the murder of three innocent children. The majority
of the Palestinians and Hamas welcomed this and celebrated
it. People should remember that Hamas’ charter calls
for the physical reduction in the number of Jews worldwide.
Killing these three children fit in to who they are.”
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.