The Fallen Angel
by Daniel Silva
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Harper Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062073150
Date: 25 June 2013 List Price $9.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
The lead character of The Fallen Angel is Gabriel Allon. Gabriel is an art restorer and is employed by the Vatican Museum to restore a Caravaggio painting. Gabriel is Israeli, and has an alter ego as a retired Israeli Intelligence operative. Through previous work, Gabriel is friends with the Pope's personal secretary, Monsignor Luigi Donati, and is asked to consult on a murder case where a woman fell to her death from the dome of St. Peter's Basilica.
The victim, Claudia Andreatti, was an art curator at the Vatican museum who Gabriel knew professionally, and he did not expect that the death was a suicide as the police reported. Gabriel finds by talking to his friend the Monsignor Donati, that the victim was involved in an investigation into improprieties with stolen antiquities in the Vatican's inventory, and expects that something in the investigation got Claudia killed.
Of course in the interest of avoiding a scandal, all of Gabriel's investigations must be kept secret. Gabriel stumbles through a few leads and ends up with a suspect for the murder. What complicates the plot, and what makes it more interesting, is that the suspect is heavily involved in organized crime. He has ties all over the world, including in Lebanon, where his groups have ties to Hezbollah, a group that does not want Israel to exist in the world. Israeli intelligence gets involved, and Gabriel does not manage to stay retired.
The novel is great. It moves quickly. The mystery is involved in Rome, Israel, Vienna and a bit in the US. Gabriel Allon is a great character and mystery lovers will enjoy The Fallen Angel.
I thoroughly enjoyed the trip to Rome with all the beautiful museums and art that I saw through Gabriel and his dealings. I loved the description of St. Peter's Basilica and the art inside. I traveled there in 2011, and it was wonderful to relive my trip through The Fallen Angel. In fact, that's why I chose to review the book for Gumshoe.
I guess I should have suspected that an Israeli lead character would lead to a lot of Israeli rights issues in the novel. I learned a lot about the various claims to the disputed area of Jerusalem. The archaeological expeditions on the Old Temple of Jerusalem and the history involved are very interesting too. Daniel Silva is certainly championing his cause of Israeli, and he does it very well. I emphasize with his feelings, but I got a little tired about reading about the Holocaust (the 1940s Holocaust) every fifth page in a novel that is supposed to be entertainment. The author has a conversation between some of the characters saying that westerners will never understand why the Jews and Muslims of the middle east continue to kill each other even after 4000 years of fighting, and I concur. I am a westerner, American born and bred, and I wish they would figure something out and stop fighting.
Political messages aside, the story, the characters and the history portrayed in The Fallen Angel are all great. I highly recommend it to mystery readers.