Review: The Fallen Angel

The Fallen Angel

by Daniel Silva

Reviewed by Judith Reveal | Released: July 17, 2012

Publisher: Harper (416 pages)

“. . . yet another exciting race through the byways of the spy community . . .”

Daniel Silva’s protagonist, Gabriel Allon, just can’t seem to complete a simple art restoration without being sucked into another spy operation on behalf of Israel. In The Fallen Angel what starts out as an apparent suicide turns into a murder when a beautiful woman falls to her death at the Vatican. 

When Monsignor Luigi Donati, private secretary to His Holiness Pope Paul VII, summons Gabriel from his work restoring a Caravaggio masterpiece at the Vatican, to view the scene, Gabriel quickly determines the death is murder, but has no means of proving his theory. Asked by Donati to investigate, Gabriel begins his slow descent into the dark secrets hidden behind the Vatican walls—secrets that reach into the very rooms of His Holiness and beyond. 

The chain of events starting with a murder in the Vatican engages in many twists and turns occurring as Gabriel’s team soon begins to follow a trail that leads from the death of the woman to “an art theft in France, an explosion at a gallery in St. Moritz, a kidnapped Iranian diplomat, and a dramatic counterterrorism operation in the heart of Vienna.” 

The team follows the clues they uncover further down the rabbit hole until a major plot to destroy Israel in its entirety is laid bare in front of Gabriel. But can he unravel the knots that Daniel Silva has so effectively tied and cast before him? 

As usual, Daniel Silva has constructed an effective series of situations that build in intensity from one chapter to the next until the reader is running along the hallways of the Vatican through the ski resort of St. Moritz to the chasms below Jerusalem, dodging bullets and bombs and out-of-control cars, hanging on Gabriel’s every move, and wondering what can be done to extract him from certain death situations. 

Daniel Silva selects his words with care to craft vivid scenes just as Gabriel Allon uses paints to restore priceless masterpieces. His hero wrestles with a past life of anguish and loss while struggling to understand and accept a new life of love and hope, all the while knowing that both lives are woven together by the everpresent existence of the Jewish State of Israel. 

Gabriel understands that both of his lives depend on the continued existence of Israel, and as hard as he might try to leave it behind and pursue a life in retirement, the ugly fact is that when he is called, he will always respond.

Mr. Silva’s characters are well drawn and effective in their roles. Each brings his or her own talents to the table while not overshadowing Gabriel’s role as leader. 

One of Mr. Silva’s stronger writing skills is his ability to let the reader know something of importance has happened without actually sharing the scene with the reader until the action has passed and is revealed through dialogue or past-tense narrative. While most readers would like to watch a scene as it is played out, Mr. Silva is skilled at keeping some secret until after the fact. 

The Fallen Angel is yet another exciting race through the byways of the spy community—one that Daniel Silva knows only too well. 

This book review was prepared for the New York Journal of Books and is reprinted with their permission. Please visit their website: www.nyjournalofbooks.com for a complete listing of book reviews.

Reviewer: Judy Reveal lives in Maryland. She is the author of Around Greensboro and the Lindsey Gale Mystery series including Cheating Death, The Music Room, A House to Kill For, and historical fiction (2013) The Brownstone.

© Roy Bartels 2012