Mystery Books for Sale

[ Home ]
[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]


by Daniel Silva
Harper, July 2022
448 pages
ISBN: 0062834851

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Recently, the New York Times had a lead article about a Chagall painting that was originally thought to be authentic but has now been declared a forgery. This article appeared just two weeks before the publication date of PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN WOMAN, Daniel Silva's 25th Gabriel Allon novel. Amazingly, this new work focuses on an international art forgery ring. As always, Silva seems to be able to pluck his stories directly from the current headlines—even if he is somehow able to write his book before the headlines appear.

As the novel opens, our remarkable spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon is newly retired from his position as the head of Israeli intelligence and living happily—if restlessly-- in Venice with his beautiful wife Chiara and twin children. But his connections with many of the characters we have come to know and love throughout the previous books pull him into investigating a murder in the high-end world of buying and selling art. His dear friend and art dealer, the quirky Julian Isherwood, receives a letter from a woman in France asking him to meet to discuss a recent sale. Before he can talk with her, she is killed in a car accident--a perhaps suspicious car accident.

This woman was also the owner of a painting that seems to be the same as one Julian recently sold. Only one painting can be the real one. When Allon and Sarah Bancroft, an ex-CIA operative, go to talk to a suspect French gallery owner, they narrowly miss being blown up by a bomb. Clearly much is at stake here if murder is on the table. Although anyone who tries to kill Allon will soon discover that he takes revenge very seriously.

Through further investigation, Allon and his friends begin to realize that there is a master forger at work. To find out the identity of this talented criminal artist, they conceive of an elaborate plan to lure his agent with the promise of a newly discovered painting. Their plan involves the dark side of the art world, where beautiful art is just a commodity for the ultra-rich and unscrupulous dealers seek to profit from knowingly selling forgeries of the old masters.

Using his own extraordinary skills as a painter, Allon creates forgeries to lure the criminal forger into the open by competing with him. Silva creates suspense by making us guess the real identity of the forger. The twist at the novel's end is the revelation of who the forger really is. Along the way, we learn much about the world of buying and selling art while breathlessly following Allon's scheme. As with all of Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon novels, PORTRAIT OF AN UNKNOWN WOMAN is both engrossing and enlightening.

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

Reviewed by Anne Corey, July 2022

[ Top ]



Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

[ About | Reviews | Search | Submit ]
[ Home ]