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A Death in Vienna [Gabriel Allon #4] by…
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A Death in Vienna [Gabriel Allon #4] (edition 2004)

by Daniel Silva

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Member:MSWallack
Title:A Death in Vienna [Gabriel Allon #4]
Authors:Daniel Silva
Info:Putnam Adult (2004), Hardcover, 400 pages
Collections:Your library, Read
Rating:****
Tags:Gabriel Allon

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A Death in Vienna by Daniel Silva

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Showing 1-5 of 32 (next | show all)
Setting aside the suspension-of-disbelief conventions of the spy genre, Silva's books about the assassin-cum-art-restorer are among the best of the breed. This volume brings Allon back to Vienna, where his family was destroyed in an earlier book, with ensuing complications, in order to solve a mystery surrounding his own mother and a hitherto-unknown SS monster. As always, Silva explores the rotten under-layer of US and Vatican complicity in the Nazi atrocities (pre and post war), but is not uncritical of Jewish and Israeli actions as well. Even when you know The Office is in control, though, you can't be sure which setbacks are contrived for a purpose, and which ones are real.

The rationale for the entire series is to disclose the horrors of the Holocaust to a new generation, in an era where forgetfulness, as well as out-right denial, are rampant.

Addendum: I really should read these in the correct order for series continuity (so far have read #10, 8, and now 4), but Silva covers the back-story naturally and fully enough for the drop-in reader.

NOTES: The Code of the Spooks is something like the Code of the West in Louis L'Amour books: a set of principles that sometimes has to be explicated for the reader. And sparks disagreement between the principals.
P. 252: "Sometimes, intelligence services must utilize the services of evil men to achieve results that are good.." vs. "There's a difference between using evil individuals as sources and hiring them as intelligence officers."
p. 300: Why pursuing the elderly Nazis and putting them on trial differs from assassinating the Black September killers of Israeli Olympic team members. "I don't just want to kill him. I want the world to know what this man did." vs. "So they could spout their propaganda from an Israeli court?...They already did that...right here in this city, in front of all the world's cameras. It wasn't our job to give them another opportunity to justify the massacre of innocents."
(pointing out that The Office is confident it always gets the right perpetrator, which is necessary to the genre -- but raises real-world questions).
p. 355: "As for the truth (about the Final Solution), no one cared while this place was in operation, and no one will care now." On a page I can't find now (twice, IIRC), the old Nazi expresses his amazement that the Reich's commanders ordered him to destroy evidence of the mass murders by incinerating the bodies, and yet live prisoners walk out of one of the camps to escape the oncoming Allies, "because they still needed their (totally useless) labor." ( )
  librisissimo | Feb 14, 2017 |
I have never read a book that I disliked all the characters. A disappointment. ( )
  janetcoletti | Jul 27, 2016 |
Great story, great writing, great research, great book! ( )
  SabinaE | Jan 23, 2016 |
In this book Venice-based art restorer and Mossad spy Gabriel Allon must exact justice against former Nazi war criminals. When he’s convinced by Israeli intelligence chief, Ari Shamron, to explore a murderous bombing he encounters a wall of obstacles. Then, a Jewish concentration camp survivor who can identify a high-ranking Austrian official with a deadly past dies. Allon, whose mission takes him to Rome, Argentina, and America, must confront conspiracies that turn the case highly personal....track the Nazi murderer who tormented his mother fifty years ago.

As always, a great series with a central character that never grows old and stale. I listened to the audio version, narrated by John Lee, and it was wonderful. This series is probably one of the very best of the spy/foreign intrigue thriller novels available. ( )
  Olivermagnus | Jan 17, 2016 |
Book #4 in the Gabriel Alon series, Gabriel chases down a Nazi war criminal. There are many interesting characters and some of them are of interest. The story has action aplenty, but there aren't a lot of twists. . Another steady read. ( )
  buffalogr | Nov 3, 2015 |
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Epigraph
In a place where wood is chopped, splinters must falls, and there is no avoiding this. - SS-Gruppenfuhrer Heinrich Müller, Head of the Gestapo
We're not in the Boy Scouts. If we'd wanted to be in the Boy Scouts, we would have joined the Boy Scouts. - Richard Helms, Former CIA Director
Dedication
Dedicated to those who give the murderers and their accomplices no peace, To my friend and editor, Neil Nyren, And, as always, to my wife, Jamie, and my children, Lily and Nicholas
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0451213181, Mass Market Paperback)

Product Description
Art restorer and sometime spy Gabriel Allon is sent to Vienna to investigate a bombing and uncovers a portrait of evil stretching across sixty years and thousands of lives-and into his own personal nightmares.

Amazon Exclusive Essay: Daniel Silva on Gabriel Allon and the "Accidental Series"

Writers tend to be solitary creatures. We toil alone for months on end, then, once a year, we emerge from our dens to publish a book. It can be a daunting experience, especially for someone like me, who is not gregarious and outgoing by nature. But there is one aspect of promotion I truly love: meeting my readers and answering their questions. During each stop on my book tour, I reserve the bulk of my time for a lively conversation with the audience. I learn much from these encounters-indeed, some of the comments are so insightful they take my breath away. There is one question I am asked each night without fail, and it remains my favorite: "How in the world did you ever think of Gabriel Allon?" The answer is complicated. In one sense, he was the result of a long, character-construction process. In another, he was a bolt from the blue. I'll try to explain.

In 1999, after publishing The Marching Season, the second book in the Michael Osbourne series, I decided it was time for a change. We were nearing the end of the Clinton administration, and the president was about to embark on a last-ditch effort to bring peace to the Middle East. I had the broad outlines of a story in mind: a retired Israeli assassin is summoned from retirement to track down a Palestinian terrorist bent on destroying the Oslo peace process. I thought long and hard before giving the Israeli a name. I wanted it to be biblical, like my own, and to be heavy with symbolism. I finally decided to name him after the archangel Gabriel. As for his family name, I chose something short and simple: Allon, which means "oak tree" in Hebrew. I liked the image it conveyed. Gabriel Allon: God's angel of vengeance, solid as an oak.

Gabriel's professional résumé-the operations he had carried out-came quickly. But what about his other side? What did he like to do in his spare time? What was his cover? I knew I wanted something distinct. Something memorable. Something that would, in many respects, be the dominant attribute of his character. I spent many frustrating days mulling over and rejecting possibilities. Then, while walking along one of Georgetown's famous redbrick sidewalks, my wife, Jamie, reminded me that we had a dinner date that evening at the home of David Bull, a man regarded as one of the finest art restorers in the world. I stopped dead in my tracks and raised my hands toward the heavens. Gabriel Allon was complete. He was going to be an art restorer, and a very good one at that.

Over my objections, the book was entitled The Kill Artist and it would go on to become a New York Times bestseller. It was not, however, supposed to be the first book in a long-running series. But once again, fate intervened. In 2000, after moving to G.P. Putnam & Sons, my new publishers asked me what I was working on. When I mumbled something about having whittled it down to two or three options, they offered their first piece of advice. They really didn't care what it was about, they just wanted one thing: Gabriel Allon.

I then spent the next several minutes listing all the reasons why Gabriel, now regarded as one of the most compelling and successful continuing characters in the mystery-thriller genre, should never appear in a second book. I had conceived him as a "one off" character, meaning he would be featured in one story and then ride into the sunset. I also thought he was too melancholy and withdrawn to build a series around, and, at nearly fifty years of age, perhaps a bit too old as well. My biggest concern, however, had to do with his nationality and religion. I thought there was far too much opposition to Israel in the world-and far too much raw anti-Semitism-for an Israeli continuing character ever to be successful in the long term.

My new publishers thought otherwise, and told me so. Because Gabriel lived in Europe and could pass as German or Italian, they believed he came across as more "international" than Israeli. But what they really liked was Gabriel's other job: art restoration. They found the two opposing sides of his character-destroyer and healer-fascinating. What's more, they believed he would stand alone on the literary landscape. There were lots of CIA officers running around saving the world, they argued, but no former Israeli assassins who spent their spare time restoring Bellini altarpieces.

The more they talked, the more I could see their point. I told them I had an idea for a story involving Nazi art looting during the Second World War and the scandalous activities of Swiss banks. "Write it with Gabriel Allon," they said, "and we promise it will be your biggest-selling book yet." Eventually, the book would be called The English Assassin, and, just as Putnam predicted, it sold twice as many copies as its predecessor. Oddly enough, when it came time to write the next book, I still wasn't convinced it should be another Gabriel novel. Though it seems difficult to imagine now, I actually conceived the plot of The Confessor without him in mind. Fortunately, my editor, Neil Nyren, saved me from myself. The book landed at #5 on the New York Times bestseller list and received some of the warmest reviews of my career. After that, a series was truly born.

I am often asked whether it is necessary to read the novels in sequence. The answer is no, but it probably doesn't hurt, either. For the record, the order of publication is The Kill Artist, The English Assassin, The Confessor, A Death in Vienna, Prince of Fire, The Messenger, The Secret Servant, and Moscow Rules, my first #1 New York Times bestseller. The Defector pits Gabriel in a final, dramatic confrontation with the Russian oligarch and arms dealer Ivan Kharkov, and I have been told it far surpasses anything that has come before it in the series. And to think that, if I'd had my way, only one Gabriel Allon book would have been written. I remain convinced, however, that had I set out in the beginning to create him as a continuing character, I would surely have failed. I have always believed in the power of serendipity. Art, like life, rarely goes according to plan. Gabriel Allon is proof of that.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:35 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Hero Gabriel Allon is a restorer of paintings and frescoes and also a reluctant member of Israeli intelligence. Action and suspense abound in this serious fiction with a serious purpose.

(summary from another edition)

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