The Daily Bongo

The Messenger

My reading schedule has been a busy one of late, and I have just been able to get through the copious amounts of magazines and newspapers to which I subscribe. I have been skimming some books, but I really haven't had a chance to really get into a book. That was until this week when I read The Messenger by Daniel Silva. The book is the sixth (and latest) in the Gabriel Allon series and was just released in the past month. Silva's books are fast pace thrillers with most of them featuring Allon.

Gabriel Allon is a master art restorer who has a secret identity. He also works for the Israeli government as a hit man. Allon is sent on the cases when the most highly skilled person is needed to bring down a top terrorist. The Messenger starts with the death of a professor who is really a recruiter for al-Qaeda/terrorists. The professor's laptop falls into the hands of the Israeli secret service, and from photos found on the laptop, they suspect that the Vatican and the Pope are targets for the next terrorist attack. Gabriel Allon is brought into the case by his mentor, Shamron, who thinks that Gabriel is the only one who could stop the attack before it happens. Unfortunately, even though Gabriel is able to convince the Pope's private secretary of the urgency of the threat, he is not able to stop the attack. The Pope survives, but the threat for more attacks still exists. Gabriel is approached by Adrian Carter of the CIA about a plan to stop the terrorists by taking out the money supply. As we have heard in so many news stories since 9/11, the Saudis are the group who are funding the terrorists. Since so many in the American government are in the "Saudi Retirement Plan," as Carter calls it, he joins forces with Gabriel and the Israeli secret service to take out one of the hugest suppliers of funds, Zizi al-Bakari, and the elusive terrorist that Zizi sponsors, Ahmed bin-Shafiq. In order to gain access to Zizi's empire, Gabriel finds a long lost Vincent Van Gogh painting and recruits a beautiful young art curator, Sarah Bancroft, as an assistant. Will Gabriel succeed in his objective without risking Sarah? Or will the terrorists win out in the end?

I really enjoyed and devoured The Messenger. So far, it is one of my favorites of all the Silva books that I have read. The action is thrilling, and the characters are very believable. Gabriel is not a superman. He is a person who is burdened with the knowledge that his past has led to the destruction of his family. However, that doesn't stop Gabriel from doing what he thinks is right, stopping the terrorization of the Israelis. The topic of the book is timely. We know that the reason that terrorists are able to continue doing their work is because of funding by wealthy contributors like the Saudis. Silva has the courage to admit that price gouging oil dollars are funneled back into organizations that want the elimination of Western civilization. But they aren't the only ones to blame. The finger of blame also points to the American politicians who know where the money goes, but keep quiet because they want to line their own pockets with the blood money. Silva is good at bringing controversy to light while still keeping things fast paced and thrilling. There is alot of violence in the books, but in the end, it is obvious who the good guys are and who are the bad guys. With the ending of this book, it seems that we are seeing the final mission of Gabriel Allon. After all, the younger men need their chance to shine. I hope that isn't the case. I want to know what else happens in Gabriel's life, and I want to know that he is still out there fighting the good fight. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves a thrilling spy story with good winning out over evil in the end. Evil may win a few battles, but the larger campaign is won by the good guys. Of course, the war is still on-going and there will be more battles won by both sides. Hopefully the balance will tip more towards the good than the evil.

August 22, 2006