Summary (from Goodreads):
Gabriel Allon is an art restorer persuaded out of retirement by Ari Shamron, Israeli spymaster, to kill Tariq, a Palestinian activist turned fundamentalist, before he assassinates his old comrade Yasir Arafat.
Tariq’s role in the murder of Gabriel’s wife and son draws in Gabriel and his mistress, French model Sarah Halevy. Sarah infiltrates Tariq’s inner circle; still before Gabriel can rescue her, tables turn.
It is often an educational thing to remain yourself about the beginning of a series. I got infected by Gabriel Allon books because of Tasha/heidenkind and her excellent reviews (do go and read her Kill Artist review, published last year on her blog) and I’ve been reading one part after another for quite a long time. I’ve never lacked of Allon books – the series consists of 15 parts (if I am not mistaken) and most likely it will be continued. How it all started? Has it gone in the right direction? What makes it going at all?
I admit the beginnings were very original – much more original than the contiuation. Allon, the main protagonist, was portrayed as almost a human being. He made mistakes, he cheated on his wife, he had pangs of conscience. If you remember my previous carpings then you are aware that I’ve complained time and again about the fact that in later books the author made of his spy and art restorer almost a saint, a man who never hesitates to fight the evil terrorists and tries very hard to rescue their innocent victims, often women. A white knight on a silver stallion. Still it all started in a different way.
In the first part the real star was not Allon at all but a girl – Jacqueline Delacroix nee Sarah Halevy. She was in love with Gabriel (she had to I guess *le sigh*) but still managed to save her own life AND his life during a very difficult operation that went quickly out of control. Mind you Sarah was just a model, ok maybe a super-model, but not a professional spy. She had undergone just some basic Mossad training and then she was inactive for a significant stretch of time. The way she pulled it off was really impressive; however Ari Shamron, the grey eminence of Mossad still favoured Allon and I do wonder why. I had a strong impression it was all rooted in the fact that Jewish, like their greatest enemies, the Arabs, favour male progeny more than female. It was a waste of a perfectly intriguing character. Even though Sarah simply had to be one of the most stunning women on Earth she was also given a great potential, far greater than any of female Allon sidekicks which crowded the next book. She was way better than Allon’s new love and wife, Chiara. Heck, she was almost overshadowing Gabriel and his moral dilemas. Still she was never given an opportunity to develop – I really don’t know why. If I were Shamron, his less biased version of course, I would begged and nagged her as long as it took until she agreed to work as my operative full time. She would be unstoppable.
A novel which aged not so well but is still worth reading; a good, solid beginning of a long, successful series. Oh Jacqueline how I miss you!