Crimezine auditions The Cellist by Daniel Silva

Posted: August 15, 2021 in Uncategorized
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The Cellist by Daniel Silva, reviewed by Tony Bulmer

Uh-oh Crimeziners, fetching CIA agent-turned art dealer, Sarah Bancroft has found a dead Russki with poison drool dripping off his chin. As you might expect, the aforementioned redski who got deadski is a moneybags dissident name of Viktor Orlov. Yikes-a-rony and cheese toast, a game is afoot!

Natch, Gabriel Allon, head of Israeli Intelligence is on the case immediately, and we are off and running. The investigation is all very glamorous, of course. The awesome Allon has travelled through five countries or more, before he has even had his breakfast.

Regular Allon readers can fit things together at an early stage, all their favorite characters from past books drop by, even if it is just for a passing moment—we are talking folks from fifteen or twenty books ago, classics like The English AssassinThe Rembrandt Affair, and Moscow Rules. Just as the reader is struggling with a dramatis personae that totters taller than the Tower of Babel, a sudden thought occurs: Cellist? Wasn’t there a violinist that classics loving Allon poured a portion to twenty years ago? That’s right, Anna Rolfe! Allon is knocking on a bit these days, and a married man to boot, so he doesn’t philander, or shoot folks quite as readily as he used to. But fear not, dear Crimeziner, that’s not going to stop him resting his arthritic hip—sitting back to hear a duet from these two lovely ladies. Hurrah!

While all this foreign travel and designer-clothes-wearing swanning-about is going on, there is a greater problem on hand, other than the orchestra of interchangeable female protagonists. Those nasty Russians and their greedy oligarch minions are rushing around the world, laundering money and trying their level best to overthrow democracy as we know it. Bastards.

Daniel Silva is a journalist supreme. He is connected. He is married to TV anchorwoman Jamie Gangel, and is friends with everyone from Bob Woodword to Burt Bacharach and beyond, so you know he knows his stuff. What is more, he is not afraid to tell you. He does so in this book, rather more than is strictly prudent. No matter. He is a man of enthusiasms—a man of passion. A man who still believes in truth, justice and democracy.

Such beliefs are dangerous these days. Silva’s opinions, particularly those on the final dark days of the last American administration, have courted a good deal of controversy. Internet trolls have been rushing around the Twitterverse with blazing hair as a result. 

In a world as nutty as the one we live in, it is tough to write thrillers these days, particularly political thrillers where life is now crazier than any art could possibly paint it. In the end notes to this book, Silva admits as much, relating how he was forced to re-write the final chapters of The Cellist as a counterpoint to the January 6th insurrection. The current affairs carousel moves faster than fiction. Silva’s bold attempts to include the Covid pandemic and the crisis in American Democracy are brave indeed. But history moves on apace and the reader is left to wonder how such commentary will stand against the passage of time.

Whatever the verdict, Crimezine is reassured to know that Gabriel Allon will return again and soon, as will Julien Isherwood. Ari Shamron and the sumptuous universe of Silva characters. Music, art, and a soul brim full with high ideals, the Allon books have it all. If you haven’t indulged yourself in the Allon books yet, The Kill Artist is the first book in the series. Better still, if you are looking for a wonderful poolside read, grab a copy of The Cellist, do it now. Tell ’em Crimezine sent you.

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