Good to see Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon back right on schedule as a summer read, despite the strange and unpredictable nature of this year.
Silva's latest Allon novel, "The Order," was released in recent weeks and it pulls the assassin/Israeli spy/head of the Israeli intelligence agency/restorer of masterpiece paintings into action in Rome and the Vatican.
Poor, old Gabriel Allon can't even take a vacation, let alone retire.
Silva has long suggested through storytelling and the character's history as an assassin in the 1970s that Allon is aging. He concedes it more so here, though not enough to slow down the narrative.
Allon, his wife and small children arrive in Italy for a vacation as the pope dies. The pope has long been a friend of Allon. Allon has helped the pope in both matters of espionage and restoring Vatican paintings – events covered in past novels.
But the pope's private secretary convinces Allon to take a break from his vacation because he believes the pope has died under mysterious circumstances. It also appears the pope had planned on giving Allon a long-lost gospel from the perspective of Pontius Pilate.
Meanwhile, a cabal of church officials and cardinals – the order that gives the novel its title – plans to elect a pope who will support the far-right leaders the order has promoted to positions of power throughout Europe.
Silva's Gabriel Allon novels are always smart thrillers, mixing history and fiction, somewhere between John LeCarre and Ian Fleming.
Gabriel Allon novels always have an aura of autumn about them, too. Something about the author's style moves with the crispness of fallen leaves and falling temperatures.
Still, Allon is a summer tradition and part of many readers' July and August summer reading lists. Always a cool read for hot summer days.