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448 pages


The Kill Artist is the kind of book that easily draws comparisons to LeCarre. Gabriel Allon is the foremost restorer of paintings in Europe and perhaps in the world. Allon is precise, patient and obsessed with restoration that is invisible to the observer he is also a retired Mossad assassin who lost his family in Vienna when his wife's car was bombed by the Muslim assassin Tariq in a payback for Allon's assassination of Tariq's brother.

We meet Allon living in an old foreman's cottage in Port Navas, Cornwall where he is oblivious to the outside world and working patiently on a restoration for a London gallery. Gabriel has removed himself from the Muslim vs Jew cycle of killing and he is not interest in revisiting that life. His peaceful existence restoring paintings and boats is interrupted not by Tariq who has been targeting and killing prominent Jews in Europe but by the man who recruited him to the Mossad Ari Shamron.

This is a very tightly told story with only one thread left hanging at the end of the book. The comparisons with LeCarre are not unwarranted as Silva does a masterful job of weaving plots within plots within plots. More interesting is the balance with which the characters are portrayed. Gabriel is a stone killer who doesn't want to do it anymore. Tariq is a stone killer who is very precise about his targets and his goals. Both have reasons for their actions and inactions the rationalizations of each for their behaviour are completely laid out in the novel in convincing fashion. While we ultimately are on Gabriel's side, we are supposed to be he is after all the protagonist, we cannot help but have a certain admiration for Tariq and what he believes he is doing. Silva handles the multiple sides of every situation with a balanced hand that only serves to raise the tension in the story as the reader is constantly torn between who to sympathize with.

Ultimately The Kill Artist is a very satisfying international spy thriller. Fans of the genre would do well to acquaint themselves with Daniel Silva.