Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Wot I'm reading: Syria's looted billions

Daniel Silva: THE HEIST


My third Daniel Silva this year - can't get enough of him! Gabriel Allon is the best action hero since Modesty Blaise.

Called in to investigate the savage murder of a rogue art dealer in Switzerland, the Israeli super-spy thinks he could be on the trail of a Caravaggio masterpiece that disappeared (it really did) from a Sicilian church in 1969. But his enquiries soon uncover something bigger than the fate of one painting: the acquisition of a stash of stolen treasures by minions of a murderous Syrian dictator who has looted billions from his war-weary people. The Syrian dictator is not named in the text, but he has a back story that most readers will be familiar with.

The adventure starts as almost a "caper" like Topkapi or one of Peter O'Donnell's literary comic-book Modesty tales, but quickly morphs into a high-octane conspiracy thriller. The surprise ending - alas, without the dictator brought to his knees (we can only watch and hope) - is subtle and richly ironic. 

Audacity is Daniel Silva's middle name, and The Heist finds him, once again, at the very top of his game.

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