A DEATH IN VIENNA
Daniel Silva

 


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Penguin Books, January 2006
Reviewed by Sally Roddom

Art restorer and occasional Israeli spy Gabriel Allon returns for another adventure. His preference is to be away from the world of espionage, but his old boss and friend from the Israeli Intelligence Service, Ari Shamron, appears one day with devastating news about an explosion in Vienna. Gabriel is not anxious to go back to the city where his wife and son were victims of a car bomb in 1991. However, Shamron persuades him to return and investigate the bombing of the Wartime Claims and Inquiries Office. While he is there, Gabriel sees a face in the crowd which looks like the face of the mystery man who brutally assaulted his mother in the last days of World War II, during the Death March from Auschwitz. Could it really be the same man? If so, who is he? How did he escape punishment? And, more importantly, where is he now? Gabriel begins to search for the answers; however, as each layer of the puzzle is stripped away, a greater evil is gradually revealed. Soon, Gabriel’s search for one monster from the past becomes a hunt for many. And the monsters are starting to stir. Will Gabriel find and reveal them – before they silence him forever?

A DEATH IN VIENNA is the third book in a series which deals with the fallout from the holocaust. The previous books are THE ENGLISH ASSASSIN and THE CONFESSOR, which deal with the involvement of Swiss bankers in the theft of Jewish art, and the Vatican's responsibility in the Holocaust. A DEATH IN VIENNA has two parallel plots: one investigates the past of Gabriel's mother and the other follows that of her tormentor whose job was to erase all evidence of the concentration camps before the Allies arrived at the end of World War II.

There is a strong political comment, which is typical of Daniel Silva’s novels. This one explores the current rise of the extreme right wing party in Austria, which many attribute to the fact that Austria has never prosecuted its war criminals, but instead, assimilates them back into society. A DEATH IN VIENNA has suspense and action, but there is also a very serious examination of issues that some would rather leave buried (those who claim the Holocaust never happened, for example). Gabriel Allon is a fascinating character with many demons to battle, both real and metaphorical, and his struggles and exploits make for compelling reading. Not only does Silva keep the pressure on his characters, but he keeps it on his readers as well. There are important lessons to be learned and vital history to be remembered. This is a good yarn, historically well researched, and it kept my attention to the very last page with plot twists and turns.

January 2006 Review originally published on Murder and Mayhem


 

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