Putnam, Mar 2002, 25.95, 400 pp.
English art gallery owner Julie Isherwood obtains a commission for Mario Delvecchio to go to Zurich to restore a painting. Mario has no idea who the client is or what painting he is to clean, but the money is too good to ignore. In Zurich, Mario finds his host is not at his villa and learns from Julie that there is a change of plans. Julie provides Mario with the security codes to enter the villa. Inside Mario learns he is to restore Raphael's Portrait of a Young Man from the early sixteenth century until he finds the murdered body of his client. Relying on his stealth as a former Israeli operative, Mario sneaks away, but is caught by the police as he tries to leave town.
Mario's former boss Ari Shamron obtains his freedom. Ari had arranged for Mario, who is actually Gabriel Allon, to do the restoration job. He wants Gabriel to meet with Anna Rolfe, daughter of the deceased, to see what she knows. Reluctantly, Gabriel becomes involved once again in the deadly world of professional assassinations even as art crimes from the time of the Nazis threaten his life.
The first half of THE ENGLISH ASSASSIN is as good as any thriller readers will find as Daniel Silva sets up his plot with historical references and moral predicaments. However, the latter part of the novel is loaded with action, but turns into a more typical "shoot-em-up" espionage chiller. Overall, fans will enjoy this story, but will feel a bit shortchanged because the second half fails to attain the incredible levels of the first part of the book.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner