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by Daniel Silva
HarperCollins, July 2021
480 pages
ISBN: 006283486X

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

When Gabriel Allon's trusted friend Victor Orloff is horribly poisoned with a deadly nerve agent, his murder becomes Gabriel's catalyst for discovering and destroying a Russian money laundering scheme. The Russian oligarchs, and most specifically a character who is easily seen as the current president Putin, have enormous wealth. It is all dirty money. They have gotten rich through nefarious means: threats, blackmail and arrests, murder and outright theft. They need the assistance of whole corrupt system of banks and financial networks to maintain and increasethis wealth. And now, it seems, these monies are going to be used to undermine and destroy American democracy.

A unit called the Haydn Group is plotting a terrible act of violence that will create chaos in the U.S. Through an elaborate and meticulous plan, Gabriel and the Israeli secret service which he heads, is able to place a brilliant young woman, Isabel Brenner, near Arkady Akimov, the wealthiest oligarch and a close childhood friend of the Russian president. Isabel had been working for one of the banks that had been instrumental in furthering the Russians' schemes.

As a compliance officer, Isabel had signed off on documents that she knew were illegal and fraudulent, and at some point decided to share her insider knowledge with a journalist who had worked to expose the Russians. Isabel initiated the distribution of information to those looking into Russian malfeasance. Crucially, she is also a cellist, whose musical performance draws in a music-loving Russian.

THE CELLIST is filled with danger and suspense, and as we have come to expect, it is also a reflection of today’s headlines. Novelist Silva again uses the critical issues of the world political situation as a starting point for his fictional narrative. There are even references to the pandemic, social distancing and mask wearing. Loyal readers of the Gabriel Allon series, of which THE CELLIST is number 21, will be happy to follow the ongoing plots and struggles of the characters we have met before.

Gabriel ages and his children grow and perhaps he will not continue as head of the Israeli service for much longer. Or perhaps he will stay. Intrigue surrounds him and his past, and Silva masterfully weaves bits and pieces of this past into the current story. Hints are dropped about the future, but much is left unsaid. Much is left to speculation. We can only wait for next year’s installment.

§ Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, June 2021

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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