Praise for House of Spies

“A tense, thrilling adventure…. With Silva’s novels you find yourself being educated as well as being entertained…. Silva is that rarity of rarities, a writer whose stories just keep getting better.”
Huffington Post

“An irresistible thriller…. The phrase ‘#1 New York Times best-selling author’ gets bandied about a lot (Which list? For how long?), but in Silva’s case, it means exactly what it says.”
Booklist, starred review

“Written by one of our greatest living spy novelists, House of Spies gives us protagonist Gabriel Allon in his 17th adventure. The novel features Silva’s taut and compelling dialogue and keen insight into the human psyche.”
Dallas Morning News

“Riveting…. Silva’s writing has lost none of its elegance. He provides readers with just enough real-world geopolitics to make sense of his narrative, and his depictions of the different styles of the world’s diverse intelligence services is fascinating as always.… Another chilling glimpse inside global terror networks from a gifted storyteller.”
Kirkus, starred review

“One of Silva’s most entertaining books…. It’s uncanny how Daniel Silva keeps doing this. The opening chapters… feel like they were ripped from the headlines…. But when Silva created the scenario in his book, the headlines hadn’t been written yet.”
Fort Worth Star-Telegram

“Outstanding…. Readers will eagerly await the next installment in this deeply fulfilling series.”
Publishers Weekly, starred review

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Read an excerpt of House of Spies

1

KING SAUL BOULEVARD, TEL AVIV

 

For something so unprecedented, so fraught with institutional risk, it was all handled with a minimum of fuss. And quietly, too. That was the remarkable thing about it, the operational silence with which it was carried out. Yes, there had been the dramatic announcement broadcast live to the nation, and the splashy first Cabinet meeting, and the lavish party at Ari Shamron’s lakeside villa in Tiberias where all the friends and collaborators from his remarkable past—the spymasters, the politicians, the Vatican priests, the London art dealers, even an inveterate art thief from Paris—had come to wish him well. But otherwise it came to pass with scarcely a ripple. One day Uzi Navot was seated behind his large smoked-glass desk in the chief’s office, and the next, Gabriel was in his place. Absent Navot’s modern desk, mind you, for glass wasn’t Gabriel’s style.

Wood was more to his liking. Very old wood. And paintings, of course; he learned quickly he could not spend twelve hours a day in a room without paintings. He hung one or two of his own, unsigned, and several by his mother, who had been one of the most prominent Israeli artists of her day. He even hung a large abstract canvas by his first wife, Leah, which she had painted when they were students together at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem. Late in the day, a visitor to the executive floor might hear a bit of opera—La Bohème was a particular favorite—leaking from his door. The music could mean only one thing. Gabriel Allon, the prince of fire, the angel of vengeance, the chosen son of Ari Shamron, had finally assumed his rightful place as chief of Israel’s secret intelligence service.

But his predecessor did not go far. In fact, Uzi Navot moved just across the foyer, to an office that in the building’s original configuration had been Shamron’s fortified little lair. Never before had a departing chief remained under the same roof as his successor. It was a violation of one of the most sacred principles of the Office, which mandated a clearing away of the brush every few years, a tilling of the soil. True, there were some former chiefs who kept their hand in the game. They wandered into King Saul Boulevard from time to time, swapped war stories, dispensed unheeded advice, and generally made a nuisance of themselves. And then, of course, there was Shamron, the eternal one, the burning bush. Shamron had built the Office from the ground up, in his own image. He had given the service its identity, its very language, and considered it his divine right to meddle in its affairs as he saw fit. It was Shamron who had awarded Navot the job as chief—and Shamron who, when the time had finally come, had taken it away.

But it was Gabriel who insisted Navot remain, with all the perquisites he had enjoyed in his previous incarnation. They shared the same secretary—the formidable Orit, known inside King Saul Boulevard as the Iron Dome for her ability to shoot down unwanted visitors—and Navot retained the use of his official car and a full complement of bodyguards, which provoked a bit of grumbling in the Knesset but was generally accepted as necessary to keep the peace. His exact title was rather vague, but that was typical of the Office. They were liars by trade. They spoke the truth only among themselves. To everyone else—their wives, their children, the citizens they were sworn to protect—they hid behind a cloak of deception.

When their respective doors were open, which was usually the case, Gabriel and Navot could see one another across the foyer. They spoke early each morning by secure phone, lunched together—sometimes in the staff dining room, sometimes alone in Gabriel’s office—and spent a few minutes of quiet time in the evening, accompanied by Gabriel’s opera, which Navot, despite his sophisticated Viennese lineage, detested. Navot had no appreciation for music, and the visual arts bored him. Otherwise, he and Gabriel were in complete agreement on all matters, at least those that involved the Office and the security of the State of Israel. Navot had fought for and won access to Gabriel’s ear anytime he wanted it, and he insisted on being present at all important gatherings of the senior staff. Usually, he maintained a sphinxlike silence, with his thick arms folded across his wrestler’s chest and an inscrutable expression on his face. But occasionally he would finish one of Gabriel’s sentences for him, as if to make it clear to everyone in the room that, as the Americans were fond of saying, there was no daylight between them. They were like Boaz and Jachin, the twin pillars that stood at the entrance of the First Temple of Jerusalem, and anyone who even thought about playing one against the other would pay a heavy price. Gabriel was the people’s chief, but he was still the chief and he would not tolerate intrigue in his court.

Not that any was likely, for the other officers who comprised his senior staff were thick as thieves. All were drawn from Barak, the elite team that had carried out some of the most storied operations in the history of a storied service. For years they had worked from a cramped subterranean set of rooms that had once been used as a dumping ground for old furniture and equipment. Now they occupied a chain of offices stretching from Gabriel’s door. Even Eli Lavon, one of Israel’s most prominent biblical archaeologists, had agreed to forsake his teaching position at Hebrew University and return to full-time Office employment. Nominally, Lavon oversaw the watchers, pickpockets, and those who specialized in planting listening devices and hidden cameras. In truth, Gabriel used him in any way he saw fit. The finest physical surveillance artist the Office ever produced, Lavon had been looking over Gabriel’s shoulder since the days of Operation Wrath of God. His little hutch, with its shards of pottery and ancient coins and tools, was the place where Gabriel often went for a few minutes of quiet. Lavon had never been much of a talker. Like Gabriel, he did his best work in the dark, and without a sound.

A few of the old hands questioned whether it was wise for Gabriel to load up the executive suite with so many loyalists and relics from his glorious past. For the most part, however, they kept their concerns to themselves. No director general— other than Shamron, of course—had ever assumed control of the Office with more experience or goodwill. Gabriel had been playing the game longer than anyone in the business, and along the way he had collected an extraordinary array of friends and accomplices. The British prime minister owed his career to him; the pope, his life. Even so, he was not the sort of fellow to shamelessly collect on an old debt. The truly powerful man, said Shamron, never had to ask for a favor.

But he had enemies, too. Enemies who had destroyed his first wife and who had tried to destroy his second as well. Enemies in Moscow and Tehran who viewed him as the only thing standing in the way of their ambitions. For now, they had been dealt with, but doubtless they would be back. So, too, would the man with whom he had last done battle. Indeed, it was this man who occupied the top spot on the new director general’s to-do list. The Office computers had assigned him a randomly generated code name. But behind the cipher-protected doors of King Saul Boulevard, Gabriel and the new leaders of the Office referred to him by the grandiose nom de guerre he had given himself. Saladin…They spoke of him with respect and even a trace of foreboding. He was coming for them. It was only a matter of time.

 

* * *

 

There was a photograph making the rounds of like-minded intelligence services. It had been snapped by an asset of the CIA in the Paraguayan town of Ciudad del Este, which was located in the notorious Tri-Border Area, or Triple Frontier, of South America. It showed a man, large, solidly built, Arab in appearance, drinking coffee at an outdoor café, accompanied by a certain Lebanese trader suspected of having ties to the global jihadist movement. The camera angle was such that it rendered facial-recognition software ineffective. But Gabriel, who was blessed with one of the finest pairs of eyes in the trade, was confident the man was Saladin. He had seen Saladin in person, in the lobby of the Four Seasons Hotel in Washington, D.C., two days before the worst terrorist attack on the American homeland since 9/11. Gabriel knew how Saladin looked, how he smelled, how the air reacted when he entered or left a room. And he knew how Saladin walked. Like his namesake, he moved with a pronounced limp, the result of a shrapnel wound that had been crudely tended to in a house of many rooms and courts near Mosul in northern Iraq. The limp was now his calling card. A man’s physical appearance could be changed in many ways. Hair could be cut or dyed, a face could be altered with plastic surgery. But a limp like Saladin’s was forever.

How he managed to escape from America was a matter of intense debate, and all subsequent efforts to locate him had failed. Reports had him variously in Asunción, Santiago, and Buenos Aires. There was even a rumor he’d found sanctuary in Bariloche, the Argentine ski resort so beloved by fugitive Nazi war criminals. Gabriel dismissed the idea out of hand. Still, he was willing to entertain the notion that Saladin was hiding somewhere in plain sight. Wherever he was, he was planning his next move. Of that, Gabriel was certain.

The recent attack on Washington, with its ruined buildings and monuments and catastrophic death toll, had established Saladin as the new face of Islamic terror. But what would be his encore? The American president, in one of his final interviews before leaving office, declared that Saladin was incapable of another large-scale operation, that the U.S. military response had left his once-formidable network in tatters. Saladin had responded by ordering a suicide bomber to detonate himself outside the U.S. Embassy in Cairo. Small beer, countered the White House. Limited casualties, no Americans among the dead. The desperate act of a man on his way out.

Perhaps, but there were other attacks as well. Saladin had struck Turkey virtually at will—weddings, buses, public squares, Istanbul’s busy airport—and his adherents in Western Europe, those who spoke his name with something like religious fervor, had carried out a series of lone-wolf attacks that had left a trail of death across France, Belgium, and Germany. But something big was coming, something coordinated, a terror spectacular to rival the calamity he had inflicted on Washington.

But where? Another attack on America seemed unlikely. Surely, said the experts, lightning would not strike the same place twice. In the end, the city Saladin chose for his curtain call came as a surprise to no one, especially those who battled terrorists for a living. Despite his penchant for secrecy, Saladin loved the stage. And where better to find a stage than the West End of London.

 

 

2

ST. JAMES’S, LONDON

 

Perhaps it was true, thought Julian Isherwood as he watched torrents of windblown rain tumbling from a black sky. Perhaps the planet was broken after all. A hurricane in London, and in the middle of February at that. Tall and somewhat precarious in comportment, Isherwood was not naturally built for such conditions. At present, he was sheltering in the doorway of Wilton’s Restaurant in Jermyn Street, a spot he knew well. He pushed up the sleeve of his mackintosh and frowned at his wristwatch. The time was 7:40; he was running late. He searched the street for a taxi. There was not one in sight.

From the bar at Wilton’s there came a trickle of halfhearted laughter, followed by the booming baritone voice of none other than tubby Oliver Dimbleby. Wilton’s was now the primary watering hole for a small band of Old Master art dealers who plied their trade in the narrow streets of St. James’s. Green’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar in Duke Street had once been their favorite haunt, but Green’s had been forced to close its doors owing to a dispute with the company that managed the Queen’s immense portfolio of London real estate. It was symptomatic of the changes that had swept through the neighborhood and the London art world as a whole. Old Masters were deeply out of fashion. The collectors of today, the instant global billionaires who made their fortunes with social media and iPhone apps, were only interested in Modern works. Even the Impressionists were becoming passé. Isherwood had sold just two paintings since the New Year. Both were middle-market works, school of so-and-so, manner of such-and-such. Oliver Dimbleby hadn’t sold anything in six months. Neither had Roddy Hutchinson, who was widely regarded as the most unscrupulous dealer in all of London. But each evening they huddled at the bar of Wilton’s and assured themselves that soon the storm would pass. Julian Isherwood feared otherwise, never more so than at that moment.

He had seen troubled times before. His English scale, devoutly English wardrobe, and backbone-of-England surname concealed the fact that he was not, at least not technically, English at all. British by nationality and passport, yes, but German by birth, French by upbringing, and Jewish by religion. Only a handful of trusted friends knew that Isherwood had staggered into London as a child refugee in 1942 after being carried across the snowbound Pyrenees by a pair of Basque shepherds. Or that his father, the renowned Paris art dealer Samuel Isakowitz, had been murdered at the Sobibor death camp along with Isherwood’s mother. Though Isherwood had carefully guarded the secrets of his past, the story of his dramatic escape from Nazi-occupied Europe had reached the ears of Israel’s secret intelligence service. And in the mid-1970s, during a wave of Palestinian terrorist attacks against Israeli targets in Europe, he had been recruited as a sayan, a volunteer helper. Isherwood had but one assignment—to assist in building and maintaining the operational cover of an art restorer and assassin named Gabriel Allon. Lately, their careers had proceeded in decidedly different directions. Gabriel was now the chief of Israeli intelligence, one of the most powerful spies in the world. And Isherwood? He was standing in the doorway of Wilton’s Restaurant in Jermyn Street, battered by the west wind, slightly drunk, waiting for a taxi that would never come.

He checked his watch a second time. It was now 7:43. Having no umbrella in his possession, he raised his old leather satchel over his head and waded over to Piccadilly, where after a wait of five sodden minutes he tipped gratefully into the back of a taxi. He gave the driver an approximate address—he was too embarrassed to say the name of his true destination—and anxiously monitored the time as the taxi crawled toward Piccadilly Circus. There it turned into Shaftesbury Avenue, arriving at Charing Cross Road at the stroke of eight. Isherwood was now officially late for his reservation.

He supposed he ought to call and say he was delayed, but there was a good chance the establishment in question would give away his table. It had taken a month of begging and bribery to obtain it in the first place; Isherwood wasn’t about to risk it now with a panicked phone call. Besides, with a bit of luck, Fiona was already there. It was one of the things Isherwood liked best about Fiona, she was prompt. He also liked her blond hair, blue eyes, long legs, and her age, which was thirty-six. In fact, at that moment, he could think of nothing he disliked about Fiona Gardner, which was why he had expended much valuable time and effort securing a reservation in a restaurant where ordinarily he would never set foot.

Another five minutes slipped away before the taxi finally deposited Isherwood outside St. Martin’s Theatre, the permanent home of Agatha Christie’s The Mousetrap. Quickly, he crossed West Street to the entrance of the famed Ivy, his true destination. The maître d’ informed him that Miss Gardner had not yet arrived and that by some miracle his table was still available. Isherwood surrendered his mackintosh to the coat check girl and was shown to a banquette overlooking Litchfield Street.

Alone, he stared disapprovingly at his reflection in the window. With his Savile Row suit, crimson necktie, and plentiful gray locks, he cut a rather elegant if dubious figure, a look he described as dignified depravity. Still, there was no denying he had reached the age that estate planners refer to as “the autumn of his years.” No, he thought gloomily, he was old. Far too old to be pursuing the likes of Fiona Gardner. How many others had there been? The art students, the junior curators, the receptionists, the pretty young girls who took telephone bids at Christie’s and Sotheby’s. Isherwood was no sportsman; he had loved them all. He believed in love, as he believed in art. Love at first sight. Love everlasting. Love until death do us part. The problem was, he had never truly found it.

All at once he thought of a recent afternoon in Venice, a corner table in Harry’s Bar, a Bellini, Gabriel…He had told Isherwood it was not too late, that there was still time for him to marry and have a child or two. The ragged face in the glass begged to differ. He was well past his expiration date, he thought. He would die alone, childless, and with no wife other than his gallery.

He made another check of the time. Eight fifteen. Now it was Fiona who was late. It wasn’t like her. He dug his mobile from the breast pocket of his suit and saw that he had received a text message. Sorry Julian but I’m afraid I won’t be able to…He stopped reading. He supposed it was for the best. It would spare him a broken heart. More important, it would prevent him from making a damn fool of himself yet again.

He returned the mobile to his pocket and considered his options. He could stay and dine alone, or he could leave. He chose the second; one didn’t dine alone at the Ivy. Rising, he collected his raincoat and with a mumbled apology to the maître d’ went quickly into the street, just as a white Ford Transit van was braking to a halt outside St. Martin’s Theatre. The driver emerged instantly, dressed in a bulky woolen peacoat and holding something that looked like a gun. It was not any gun, thought Isherwood, it was a weapon of war. Four more men were now clambering out of the van’s rear cargo compartment, each wearing a heavy coat, each holding the same type of combat assault rifle. Isherwood could scarcely believe what he was seeing. It looked like a scene from a movie. A movie he had seen before, in Paris and in Washington.

The five men moved calmly toward the doors of the theater in a tight fighting unit. Isherwood heard the splintering of wood, followed by gunshots. Then, a few seconds later, came the first screams, muffled, distant. They were the screams of Isherwood’s nightmares. Again he thought of Gabriel and wondered what he would do in a situation like this. He would charge headlong into the theater and save as many lives as possible. But Isherwood hadn’t Gabriel’s skills or his courage. He was no hero. In fact, he was quite the other thing.

The nightmarish screams were growing louder. Isherwood dug his mobile phone from his pocket, dialed 999, and reported that St. Martin’s Theatre was under terrorist attack. Then he spun round and stared at the landmark restaurant he had just departed. Its well-heeled customers appeared oblivious to the carnage taking place a few paces away. Surely, he thought, the terrorists would not be content with a single massacre. The iconic Ivy would be their next stop.

Isherwood considered his options. Again he had two. He could make his escape or he could try to save as many lives as possible. The decision was the easiest of his life. As he staggered across the street, he heard an explosion from the direction of Charing Cross Road. Then another. Then a third. He was not a hero, he thought as he careened through the door of the Ivy, waving his arms like a madman, but he could act like one, if only for a moment or two. Perhaps Gabriel had been right. Perhaps it was not too late for him after all.

 

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House of Spies

From the #1 NYT bestselling author of The Black Widow comes the thrilling new summer blockbuster featuring international spy, assassin and art restorer Gabriel Allon.

A heart-stopping tale of suspense, Daniel Silva’s runaway bestseller, The Black Widow, was one of 2016’s biggest novels. Now, in House of Spies, the legendary Gabriel Allon is back and out for revenge – determined to hunt down the world’s most dangerous terrorist, a shadowy ISIS mastermind known only as Saladin. 

Four months after the deadliest attack on the American homeland since 9/11,  a terrorist plot leaves a trail of carnage through London’s glittering West End. The attack is a brilliant feat of planning and secrecy, but with one loose thread.

The thread leads Gabriel Allon and his team to the south of France and to the gilded doorstep of one of the richest men in the country, Jean-Luc Martel, and his companion, Olivia Watson. A beautiful former British fashion model, Olivia pretends not to know the true source of Martel’s enormous wealth. And Martel, likewise, turns a blind eye to the fact he is doing business with a man whose objective is the very destruction of the West. Together, under Gabriel’s skilled hand, they will become an unlikely pair of heroes in the global war on terrorism.

Written in seductive and elegant prose, the story moves swiftly from the glamour of Saint-Tropez to the grit of Casablanca and, finally, to an electrifying climax that will leave readers breathless long after they turn the final page.

But House of Spies is more than just riveting entertainment; it is a dazzling tale of avarice and redemption, set against the backdrop of the great conflict of our times. And it will prove once again why Daniel Silva is “quite simply the best” (Kansas City Star).

 

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Praise for The Black Widow

“Silva builds suspense like a symphony conductor…a sobering, insightful, and multifaceted look at the overwhelming complexities of the seemingly interminable war in the Middle East. And, for series fans, Silva introduces a new and richly conceived character who is likely to become a regular cast member. A winner on all fronts.”
— Booklist, starred review

“Fascinating, suspenseful, and bated-breath exciting…. Silva proves once again that he can rework familiar genre material and bring it to new life.”
— Publishers Weekly, starred review

“One of fiction’s greatest spies…. Allon remains as compelling as ever…. A dark thriller for difficult times.”
— Kirkus, starred review

“A literary powder keg. The fuse is lit in the first few pages of the novel and burns through the rest of the story until its explosive ending.”
 Jackie K Cooper, Book Critic, The Huffington Post

The Black Widow probably is the most important book of the summer, no matter who you are or where you live in America.”
— Hugh Hewitt

“A stunning new thriller of high stakes international intrigue… Silva’s most timely and powerful novel yet.”
— Broadway World

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Read an Excerpt of The Black Widow

 

1

THE MARAIS, PARIS

 

* * * * *

 

It was Toulouse that would prove to be Hannah Weinberg’s undoing. That night she telephoned Alain Lambert, a contact at the Interior Ministry, and told him that this time something would have to be done. Alain promised a swift response. It would be bold, he assured Hannah, boldness being the default response of a fonctionnaire when in reality he planned to do nothing at all. The following morning the minister himself paid a visit to the site of the attack and issued a vague call for “dialogue and healing.” To the parents of the three victims he offered only regrets. “We will do better,” he said before returning hastily to Paris. “We must.”

They were twelve years of age, the victims, two boys and a girl, all Jewish, though the French media neglected to mention their religion in the first reports. Nor did they bother to point out that the six attackers were Muslim, only that they were youths who resided in a suburb, a banlieue, east of the city center. The description of the attack was vague to the point of inaccuracy. According to French radio, an altercation of some sort had occurred outside a patisserie. Three were injured, one seriously. The police were investigating. No arrests had been made.

In truth, it had not been an altercation but a well-planned ambush. And the attackers were not youths, they were men in their early twenties who had ventured into the center of Toulouse in search of Jews to harm. That their victims were children seemed to trouble them not. The two young boys were kicked, spat upon, and then beaten bloody. The girl was pinned to the pavement and her face slashed with a knife. Before fleeing, the six attackers turned to a group of stunned bystanders and shouted, “Khaybar, Khaybar, ya-Yahud!” Though the witnesses did not know it, the Arabic chant was a reference to the seventh-century Muslim conquest of a Jewish oasis near the holy city of Medina. Its message was unmistakable. The armies of Muhammad, the six men were saying, were coming for the Jews of France.

Regrettably, the attack in Toulouse was not without precedent or ample warning. France was presently in the grip of the worst spasm of violence against Jews since the Holocaust. Synagogues had been firebombed, gravestones toppled, shops looted, homes vandalized and marked with threatening graffiti. In all, there had been more than four thousand documented attacks during the past year alone, each carefully recorded and investigated by Hannah and her team at the Isaac Weinberg Center for the Study of Anti-Semitism in France.

Named for Hannah’s paternal grandfather, the center had opened its doors under heavy security ten years earlier. It was now the most respected such institution in France, and Hannah Weinberg was regarded as the foremost chronicler of the country’s new wave of anti-Semitism. Her supporters referred to her as a “memory militant,” a woman who would stop at nothing to pressure France into protecting its besieged Jewish minority. Her detractors were far less charitable. Consequently, Hannah had long ago stopped reading the things that were written about her in the press or in the sewers of the Internet.

The Weinberg Center stood on the rue des Rosiers, the most prominent street in the city’s most visible Jewish neighborhood. Hannah’s apartment was around the corner on the rue Pavée. The nameplate on the intercom read Mme Bertrand, one of the few steps she took to safeguard her security. She resided in the flat alone, surrounded by the possessions of three generations of her family, including a modest collection of paintings and several hundred antique lunettes, her secret passion. At fifty-five, she was unmarried and childless. Occasionally, when work permitted, she allowed herself a lover. Alain Lambert, her contact at the Interior Ministry, had once been a pleasant distraction during a particularly tense period of anti-Jewish incidents. He rang Hannah at home late after his master’s visit to Toulouse.

“So much for boldness,” she said acidly. “He should be ashamed of himself.”

“We did the best we could.”

“Your best wasn’t good enough.”

“It’s better not to throw oil on the fire at a time like this.”

“That’s the same thing they said in the summer of nineteen forty-two.”

“Let’s not get overly emotional.”

“You leave me no choice but to issue a statement, Alain.”

“Choose your words carefully. We’re the only ones standing between you and them.”

Hannah hung up the phone. Then she opened the top drawer of the writing desk and removed a single key. It unlocked a door at the end of the hall. Behind it was the room of a child, Hannah’s room, frozen in time. A four-poster bed with a lace canopy. Shelves stacked with stuffed animals and toys. A faded pinup of a heartthrob American actor. And hanging above the French provincial dresser, invisible in the darkness, was a painting by Vincent van Gogh. Marguerite Gachet at Her Dressing Table… Hannah trailed a fingertip over the brushstrokes and thought of the man who had carried out the painting’s one and only restoration. How would he respond at a time like this? No, she thought, smiling. That wouldn’t do.

She climbed into her childhood bed and, much to her surprise, fell into a dreamless sleep. And when she woke she had settled on a plan.

 

* * * * *

 

For the better part of the next week, Hannah and her team toiled under conditions of strict operational security. Potential participants were quietly approached, arms were twisted, donors were tapped. Two of Hannah’s most reliable sources of funding demurred, for like the minister of the interior they thought it better to not jeter de l’ huile sur le feu—throw oil on the fire. To make up for the shortfall, Hannah had no choice but to dip into her personal finances, which were considerable. This, too, was fodder for her enemies.

Lastly, there was the small matter of what to call Hannah’s endeavor. Rachel Lévy, head of the center’s publicity department, thought blandness and a trace of obfuscation would be the best approach, but Hannah overruled her. When synagogues were burning, she said, caution was a luxury they could not afford. It was Hannah’s wish to sound an alarm, to issue a clarion call for action. She scribbled a few words on a slip of notepaper and placed it on Rachel’s cluttered desk.

“That should get their attention.”

At that point, no one of any consequence had agreed to attend—no one but a gadfly American blogger and cable television commentator who would have accepted an invitation to his own funeral. But then Arthur Goldman, the eminent historian of anti-Semitism from Cambridge, said he might be willing to make the trip down to Paris— provided, of course, that Hannah agreed to put him up for two nights in his favorite suite at the Crillon. With Goldman’s commitment, Hannah snared Maxwell Strauss from Yale, who never passed up an opportunity to appear on the same stage as his rival. The rest of the participants quickly fell into place. The director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum signed on, as did two important memoirists of survival and an expert on the French Holocaust from Yad Vashem. A novelist was added, more for her immense popularity than her historical insight, along with a politician from the French far right who rarely had a kind word to say about anyone. Several Muslim spiritual and community leaders were invited to attend. All declined. So, too, did the interior minister. Alain Lambert broke the news to Hannah personally.

“Did you really think he would attend a conference with so provocative a title?”

“Heaven forbid your master ever do anything provocative, Alain.”

“What about security?”

“We’ve always looked after ourselves.”

“No Israelis, Hannah. It will give the entire affair a bad odor.”

Rachel Lévy issued the press release the next day. The media were invited to cover the conference; a limited number of seats were made available to the public. A few hours later, on a busy street in the Twentieth Arrondissement, a religious Jew was set upon by a man with a hatchet and gravely wounded. Before making his escape, the assailant waved the bloody weapon and shouted, “Khaybar, Khaybar, ya-Yahud! ” The police were said to be investigating.

 

* * * * *

 

For reasons of both haste and security, a period of just five busy days separated the press release from the start of the conference itself. Consequently, Hannah waited until the last minute to prepare her opening remarks. On the eve of the gathering, she sat alone in her library, a pen scratching furiously across a yellow legal pad.

It was, she thought, an appropriate place to compose such a document, for the library had once been her grandfather’s. Born in the Lublin district of Poland, he had fled to Paris in 1936, four years before the arrival of Hitler’s Wehrmacht. On the morning of July 16, 1942—the day known as Jeudi Noir, or Black Thursday—French police officers carrying stacks of blue deportation cards arrested Isaac Weinberg and his wife, along with nearly thirteen thousand other foreign-born Jews. Isaac Weinberg had managed to conceal two things before the dreaded knock at the door: his only child, a young son named Marc, and the van Gogh. Marc Weinberg survived the war in hiding, and in 1952 he managed to reclaim the apartment on the rue Pavée from the French family who had settled into it after Jeudi Noir. Miraculously, the painting was precisely where Isaac Weinberg had left it, hidden under the floorboards of the library, beneath the desk where Hannah now sat.

Three weeks after their arrest, Isaac Weinberg and his wife were deported to Auschwitz and gassed upon arrival. They were just two of the more than 75,000 Jews from France who perished in the death camps of Nazi Germany, a permanent stain on French history. But could it ever happen again? And was it time for the 475,000 Jews of France, the third-largest Jewish community in the world, to pack their bags and leave? This was the question Hannah had posed in the title of her conference. Many Jews had already abandoned France. Fifteen thousand had immigrated to Israel during the past year, and more were leaving every day. Hannah, however, had no plans to join them. Regardless of what her enemies might say, she considered herself French first and Jewish second. The idea of living somewhere other than the Fourth Arrondissement of Paris was abhorrent to her. Still, she felt duty-bound to warn her fellow French Jews of the gathering storm. The threat was not yet existential. But when a building is burning, Hannah wrote now, the best course of action is to find the nearest exit.

She finished a first draft shortly before midnight. It was too strident, she thought, and perhaps a bit too angry. She softened its roughest edges and added several depressing statistics to bolster her case. Then she typed it into her laptop, printed a copy, and managed to find her bed by two. The alarm woke her at seven; she drank a bowl of café au lait on the way to the shower. Afterward, she sat before her vanity in a toweling robe, staring at her face in the mirror. Her father, in a moment of brutal honesty, had once said of his only daughter that God had been generous when giving her brains but parsimonious with her looks. Her hair was wavy and dark and streaked with gray that she had allowed to encroach without resistance. Her nose was prominent and aquiline, her eyes were wide and brown. It had never been a particularly pretty face, but no one had ever mistaken her for a fool, either. At a moment like this, she thought, her looks were an asset.

She applied a bit of makeup to hide the circles beneath her eyes and arranged her hair with more care than usual. Then she dressed quickly—a dark woolen skirt and sweater, dark stockings, a pair of low-heeled pumps—and headed downstairs. After crossing the interior courtyard, she opened the main doorway of the building a few inches and peered into the street. It was a few minutes after eight; Parisians and tourists were making their way swiftly along the pavement beneath a gray early-spring sky. No one, it seemed, was waiting for an intelligent-looking woman in her mid-fifties to emerge from the apartment building at Number 24.

She did so now and headed past a row of chic clothing boutiques to the rue des Rosiers. For a few paces it seemed like an ordinary Paris street in a rather upscale arrondissement. Then Hannah came upon a kosher pizzeria and several falafel stands with signs written in Hebrew, and the true character of the street was revealed. She imagined how it must have looked early on the morning of Jeudi Noir. The helpless detainees clambering into open-top trucks, each clutching their allotted one suitcase. The neighbors staring down from open windows, some silent and ashamed, others barely able to contain their glee at the misfortune of a reviled minority. Hannah clung to this image—the image of Parisians waving good-bye to doomed Jews—as she moved through the flat light, her heels tapping rhythmically over the paving stones.

The Weinberg Center stood at the quiet end of the street, in a four-story building that before the war had housed a Yiddish-language newspaper and a coat factory. A line of several dozen people stretched from the doorway where two dark-suited security guards, young men in their twenties, were carefully searching all those who wished to enter. Hannah slipped past them and made her way upstairs to the VIP reception. Arthur Goldman and Max Strauss were eyeing each other warily across the room over cups of weak américain. The famous novelist was speaking seriously to one of the memoirists; the head of the Holocaust Museum was exchanging notes with the specialist from Yad Vashem, who was a longtime friend. Only the gadfly American commentator seemed to have no one to talk to. He was piling croissants and brioche onto his plate as though he hadn’t seen food in days. “Don’t worry,” said Hannah, smiling. “We’re planning to take a break for lunch.”

She spent a moment or two with each of the panelists before heading down the hall to her office. Alone, she reread her opening remarks until Rachel Lévy poked her head through the doorway and pointed to her wristwatch.

“What’s the crowd like?” asked Hannah. “More than we can handle.”

“And the media?”

“Everyone came, including the New York Times and the BBC.” Just then, Hannah’s mobile phone chimed. It was a text from Alain

Lambert at the Interior Ministry. Reading it, she frowned. “What does it say?” asked Rachel.

“Just Alain being Alain.”

Hannah placed the mobile on her desk and, gathering her papers, went out. Rachel Lévy waited until she was gone before picking up the mobile and entering Hannah’s not-so-secret security code. The text from Alain Lambert appeared, four words in length.

Be careful my dear…

 

* * * * *

 

The Weinberg Center had insufficient space for a formal auditorium, but the room on its uppermost floor was one of the finest in the Marais. A row of greenhouse-like windows gave it a magnificent view across the rooftops toward the Seine, and upon its walls hung several large black-and-white photographs of life in the district before the morning of Jeudi Noir. All those depicted had perished in the Holocaust, including Isaac Weinberg, who had been photographed in his library three months before disaster struck. As Hannah passed the picture, she trailed a forefinger over its surface, as she had touched the brushstrokes of the van Gogh. Only Hannah knew of the secret connection between the painting, her grandfather, and the center that bore his name. No, she thought suddenly. That wasn’t quite true. The restorer knew of the connection, too.

A long rectangular table had been placed atop a raised platform in front of the windows, and two hundred chairs had been arranged on the open floor like soldiers on a parade ground. Each of the chairs was occupied, and another hundred or so spectators lined the rear wall. Hannah took her assigned seat—she had volunteered to serve as a separation barrier between Goldman and Strauss—and listened as Rachel Lévy instructed the audience to silence their mobile phones. Finally, her turn came to speak. She switched on her microphone and looked down at the first line of her opening statement. It is a national tragedy that a conference such as this is even taking place… And then she heard the sound in the street below, a popping, like the snap of firecrackers, followed by a man shouting in Arabic.

“Khaybar, Khaybar, ya-Yahud!”

Hannah stepped from the platform and moved quickly to the floor-to-ceiling windows.

“Dear God,” she whispered.

Turning, she shouted at the panelists to move away from the windows, but the roar of the detonation swallowed her warning. Instantly, the room was a tornado of flying glass, chairs, masonry, articles of clothing, and human limbs. Hannah knew she was toppling forward, though she had no sense of whether she was rising or falling. Once, she thought she glimpsed Rachel Lévy spinning like a ballerina. Then Rachel, like all else, was lost to her.

At last, she came to rest, perhaps on her back, perhaps on her side, perhaps in the street, perhaps in a tomb of brick and concrete. The silence was oppressive. So, too, was the smoke and the dust. She tried to wipe the grit from her eyes, but her right arm would not respond. Then Hannah realized she had no right arm. Nor did she seem to have a right leg. She turned her head slightly and saw a man lying beside her. “Professor Strauss, is that you?” But the man said nothing. He was dead. Soon, thought Hannah, I’ll be dead, too.

All at once she was frightfully cold. She supposed it was the loss of blood. Or perhaps it was the breath of wind that briefly cleared the black smoke from in front of her face. She realized then that she and the man who might have been Professor Strauss were lying together amid the rubble in the rue des Rosiers. And standing over them, peering downward over the barrel of a military-style automatic rifle, was a figure dressed entirely in black. A balaclava masked the face, but the eyes were visible. They were shockingly beautiful, two kaleidoscopes of hazel and copper. “Please,” said Hannah softly, but the eyes behind the mask only brightened with zeal. Then there was a flash of white light, and Hannah found herself walking along a hallway, her missing limbs restored. She passed through the door of her childhood bedroom and groped in the darkness for the van Gogh. But the painting, it seemed, was already gone. And in a moment Hannah was gone, too.

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The Black Widow

A network of terror.
A web of deceit.
A deadly game of vengeance.

Legendary spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon is poised to become the chief of Israel’s secret intelligence service. But on the eve of his promotion, events conspire to lure him into the field for one final operation. ISIS has detonated a massive bomb in the Marais district of Paris, and a desperate French government wants Gabriel to eliminate the man responsible before he can strike again.

They call him Saladin …

He is a terrorist mastermind whose ambition is as grandiose as his nom de guerre, a man so elusive that even his nationality is not known. Shielded by sophisticated encryption software, his network communicates in total secrecy, leaving the West blind to his planning—and leaving Gabriel no choice but to insert an agent into the most dangerous terrorist group the world has ever known. Natalie Mizrahi is an extraordinary young doctor as brave as she is beautiful. At Gabriel’s behest, she will pose as an ISIS recruit in waiting, a ticking time bomb, a black widow out for blood.

Her perilous mission will take her from the restive suburbs of Paris to the island of Santorini and the brutal world of the Islamic State’s new caliphate, and eventually to Washington, D.C., where the ruthless Saladin is plotting an apocalyptic night of terror that will alter the course of history. The Black Widow is a riveting thriller of shocking prescience. But it is also a thoughtful journey into the new heart of darkness that will haunt readers long after they have turned the final page.

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Reading Group Guide – The English Spy

Discussion Questions

1. Gabriel Allon and his wife, Chiara, are a mere month away from the birth of their twins. How might such a circumstance affect Gabriel as he works another dangerous mission?

2. Reminded that he is lucky to have Chiara, that there “aren’t many women who would let their husbands to go to war against the Kremlin in the final weeks of a pregnancy,” Gabriel replies: “It’s part of the deal.” What is the complex and supportive understanding that Gabriel and Chiara share?

3. In some books, Gabriel is restoring a painting; in others, he is a restoring a person. What is the role of restoration in The English Spy?

4. Over the course of the series, how has Gabriel changed? How is he restoring himself in The English Spy?

5. Christopher Keller, a former top member of the SAS’s Regiment turned rogue professional assassin, is now being recruited to return home to serve as a spy for Britain’s MI6. What skills make him a viable spy? What behaviors or philosophies will he have to change to make the move from assassin to spy?

5. Gabriel sees Keller as his “last restoration” project. Why is it so important to Gabriel that Keller be restored to his family?

6. Keller is motivated by the murder of Elizabeth Conlin, a woman he once fell in love with when he was working undercover in Northern Ireland. How does this detail increase the complexity of Keller’s severe character?

7. For both Gabriel and Keller, tracking down Eamon Quinn is personal, and “when it’s personal, it tends to get messy.” What does this mean? How does such personal motivation empower their mission? How does it hinder it?

8. The epigraph from Mary, Queen of Scots (“No more tears now; I will think upon revenge”) suggests that much of the motivation in the novel is revenge. Yet Gabriel says to Keller that revenge “never makes you feel better.” What are the advantages of revenge? What are its liabilities? Why might achieving revenge fail to transform suffering?

9. How is being motivated by revenge different from being motivated by a desire for justice?

10. How does Madeline Hart’s reappearance from The English Girl add to the complex storyline?

11. What are the relevant similarities and differences between Madeline and Katerina Akulova. Why did each woman want to be like the other when they were young? What makes Madeline “good” according to Katerina?

12. Do the tragic, politically co-opted childhoods of Madeline and Katerina generate sympathy despite their deceitful and injurious actions? What might be the value of trying to understand, or even to empathize with, harmful people? How does Katerina’s final act of saving Madeline and Gabriel before her own death alter any previous conceptions about her?

13. Gabriel shows an empathic ability when he admits to thinking of some terrorists as potential scientists or poets gone terribly wrong. What complex web of forces damages and profoundly misdirects such valuable intellectual and creative abilities?

14. What does the complicated history of the United Kingdom’s engagement with the IRA in Northern Ireland bring to the novel? What can be made of the suggested parallel drawn between this conflict and the conflicts in the contemporary Middle East?

15. How does the ominous presence of an unscrupulous contemporary Russia affect the complex political landscape of the novel?

15. Samantha Cooke, the Telegraph’s chief Whitehall correspondent, writes and publishes misleading falsehoods for the benefit of the mission. Is this ethical? What might justify violating such public trust? What might be the differences, suggested by Gabriel, between “lies” and “deception”?

16. Examine the psychological complexity created by the simultaneous presence of Gabriel’s faked death and the expectation of the birth of his twins.

17. Consider the varied presence of borders in the novel: as a literal, geographic line of division; as a symbolic line of cultural identity; as a metaphorical mark of identity transition for Gabriel, from spy to chief and father, and for Keller, from rogue assassin to MI6 spy.

18. Gabriel plans Chiara’s pending trip to the hospital for the birth of the twins with the detail and backups of a mission, and when viewing a sonogram of the fully developed twins, his “heart beat[s] with operational swiftness.” What might be made of this suggested comparison between his life as a spy and the challenges of parenting?

19. In a small, emotionally charged way, Gabriel returns to painting by transforming a wall of the twins’ nursery with “Titianesque clouds” and an angelic homage to his first son, Daniel. What might this suggest about the nature of his return home?

20. Do you think Gabriel will retire to the position of chief of the Office? Graham Seymour’s experience suggests that “with power … there often comes a feeling of helplessness.” How might this be so? How could this create difficulty for Gabriel after a brilliant, autonomous, and effective career in the field?

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Read an excerpt of The English Spy

1

GUSTAVIA, SAINT BARTHÉLEMY

 

* * * * * *

 

None of it would have happened if Spider Barnes hadn’t tied one on at Eddy’s two nights before the Aurora was due to set sail. Spider was regarded as the finest waterborne chef in the entire Caribbean, irascible but altogether irreplaceable, a mad genius in a starched white jacket and apron. Spider, you see, was classically trained. Spider had done a stint in Paris. Spider had done London. Spider had done New York, San Francisco, and an unhappy layover in Miami before leaving the restaurant biz for good and taking to the freedom of the sea. He worked the big charters now, the kind of boats the film stars, rappers, moguls, and poseurs rented whenever they wanted to impress. And when Spider wasn’t behind his stove, he was invariably propped atop one of the better bar stools on dry land. Eddy’s was in his top five in the Caribbean Basin, perhaps his top five worldwide. He started at seven o’clock that evening with a few beers, blew a reefer in the shadowed garden at nine, and at ten was contemplating his first glass of vanilla rum. All seemed right with the world. Spider Barnes was buzzed and in paradise.

But then he spotted Veronica, and the evening took a dangerous turn. She was new to the island, a lost girl, a European of uncertain provenance who served drinks to day-trippers at the dive bar next door. She was pretty, though—pretty as a floral garnish, Spider remarked to his nameless drinking companion—and he lost his heart to her in ten seconds flat. He proposed marriage, which was Spider’s favorite approach, and when she turned him down he suggested a roll in the sheets instead. Somehow it worked, and the two were seen teetering into a torrential downpour at midnight. And that was the last time anyone laid eyes on him, at 12:03 a.m. on a wet night in Gustavia, soaked to the skin, drunk and in love yet again.

The captain of the Aurora, a 154-foot luxury motor yacht based out of Nassau, was a man called Ogilvy—Reginald Ogilvy, ex–Royal Navy, a benevolent dictator who slept with a copy of the rulebook on his bedside table, along with his grandfather’s King James Bible. He had never cared for Spider Barnes, never less so than at nine the next morning when Spider failed to appear at the regular meeting of the crew and cabin staff. It was no ordinary meeting, for the Aurora was being made ready for a very important guest. Only Ogilvy knew her identity. He also knew that her party would include a team of security men and that she was demanding, to say the least, which explained why he was alarmed by the absence of his renowned chef.

Ogilvy informed the Gustavia harbormaster of the situation, and the harbormaster duly informed the local gendarmerie. A pair of officers knocked on the door of Veronica’s little hillside cottage, but there was no sign of her either. Next they undertook a search of the various spots on the island where the drunken and brokenhearted typically washed ashore after a night of debauchery. A red-faced Swede at Le Select claimed to have bought Spider a Heineken that very morning. Someone else said he saw him stalking the beach at Colombier, and there was a report, never confirmed, of an inconsolable creature baying at the moon in the wilds of Toiny.

The gendarmes faithfully followed each lead. Then they scoured the island from north to south, stem to stern, all to no avail. A few minutes after sundown, Reginald Ogilvy informed the crew of the Aurora that Spider Barnes had vanished and that a suitable replacement would have to be found in short order. The crew fanned out across the island, from the waterside eateries of Gustavia to the beach shacks of the Grand Cul-de-Sac. And by nine that evening, in the unlikeliest of places, they had found their man.

 

* * * * * *

 

He had arrived on the island at the height of hurricane season and settled into the clapboard cottage at the far end of the beach at Lorient. He had no possessions other than a canvas duffel bag, a stack of well-read books, a shortwave radio, and a rattletrap motor scooter that he’d acquired in Gustavia for a few grimy banknotes and a smile. The books were thick, weighty, and learned; the radio was of a quality rarely seen any longer. Late at night, when he sat on his sagging veranda reading by the light of his battery-powered lamp, the sound of music floated above the rustle of the palm fronds and the gentle slap and recession of the surf. Jazz and classical, mainly, sometimes a bit of reggae from the stations across the water. At the top of every hour he would lower his book and listen intently to the news on the BBC. Then, when the bulletin was over, he would search the airwaves for something to his liking, and the palm trees and the sea would once again dance to the rhythm of his music.

At first, it was unclear as to whether he was vacationing, passing through, hiding out, or planning to make the island his permanent address. Money seemed not to be an issue. In the morning, when he dropped by the boulangerie for his bread and coffee, he always tipped the girls generously. And in the afternoon, when he stopped at the little market near the cemetery for his German beer and American cigarettes, he never bothered to collect the loose change that came rattling out of the automatic dispenser. His French was reasonable but tinged with an accent no one could quite place. His Spanish, which he spoke to the Dominican who worked the counter at JoJo Burger, was much better, but still there was that accent. The girls at the boulangerie decided he was an Australian, but the boys at JoJo Burger reckoned he was an Afrikaner. They were all over the Caribbean, the Afrikaners. Decent folk for the most part, but a few of them had business interests that were less than legal.

His days, while shapeless, seemed not entirely without purpose. He took his breakfast at the boulangerie, he stopped by the newsstand in Saint-Jean to collect a stack of day-old English and American papers, he did his rigorous exercises on the beach, he read his dense volumes of literature and history with a bucket hat pulled low over his eyes. And once he rented a whaler and spent the afternoon snorkeling on the islet of Tortu. But his idleness appeared forced rather than voluntary. He seemed like a wounded soldier longing to return to the battlefield, an exile dreaming of his lost homeland, wherever that homeland might be.

According to Jean-Marc, a customs officer at the airport, he had arrived on a flight from Guadeloupe in possession of a valid Venezuelan passport bearing the peculiar name Colin Hernandez. It seemed he was the product of a brief marriage between an AngloIrish mother and a Spanish father. The mother had fancied herself a poet; the father had done something shady with money. Colin had loathed the old man, but he spoke of the mother as though canonization were a mere formality. He carried her photograph in his billfold. The towheaded boy on her lap didn’t look much like Colin, but time was like that.

The passport listed his age at thirty-eight, which seemed about right, and his occupation as “businessman,” which could mean just about anything. The girls from the boulangerie reckoned he was a writer in search of inspiration. How else to explain the fact that he was almost never without a book? But the girls from the market conjured up a wild theory, wholly unsupported, that he had murdered a man on Guadeloupe and was hiding out on Saint Barthélemy until the storm had passed. The Dominican from JoJo Burger, who was in hiding himself, found the hypothesis laughable. Colin Hernandez, he declared, was just another shiftless layabout living off the trust fund of a father he hated. He would stay until he grew bored, or until his finances grew thin. Then he would fly off to somewhere else, and within a day or two they would struggle to recall his name.

Finally, a month to the day after his arrival, there was a slight change in his routine. After taking his lunch at JoJo Burger, he went to the hair salon in Saint-Jean, and when he emerged his shaggy black mane was shorn, sculpted, and lustrously oiled. Next morning, when he appeared at the boulangerie, he was freshly shaved and dressed in khaki trousers and a crisp white shirt. He had his usual breakfast—a large bowl of café crème and a loaf of coarse country bread—and lingered over the previous day’s London Times. Then, instead of returning to his cottage, he mounted his motor scooter and sped into Gustavia. And by noon that day, it was finally clear why the man called Colin Hernandez had come to Saint Barthélemy.

 

* * * * * *

 

He went first to the stately old Hotel Carl Gustaf, but the head chef, after learning he had no formal training, refused to grant him an interview. The owners of Maya’s turned him politely away, as did the management of the Wall House, Ocean, and La Cantina. He tried La Plage, but La Plage wasn’t interested. Neither were the Eden Rock, the Guanahani, La Crêperie, Le Jardin, or Le Grain de Sel, the lonely outpost overlooking the salt marshes of Saline. Even La Gloriette, founded by a political exile, wanted nothing to do with him.

Undeterred, he tried his luck at the undiscovered gems of the island: the airport snack bar, the Creole joint across the street, the little pizza-and-panini hut in the parking lot of L’Oasis supermarket. And it was there fortune finally smiled upon him, for he learned that the chef at Le Piment had stormed off the job after a long-simmering dispute over hours and salary. By four o’clock that afternoon, after demonstrating his skills in Le Piment’s birdhouse of a kitchen, he was gainfully employed. He worked his first shift that same evening. The reviews were universally glowing.

In fact, it did not take long for word of his culinary prowess to make its way round the little island. Le Piment, once the province of locals and habitués, was soon overflowing with a newfound clientele, all of whom sang the praises of the mysterious new chef with the peculiar Anglo-Spanish name. The Carl Gustaf tried to poach him, as did the Eden Rock, the Guanahani, and La Plage, all without success. Therefore, Reginald Ogilvy, captain of the Aurora, was in a pessimistic mood when he appeared at Le Piment without a reservation the night after the disappearance of Spider Barnes. He was forced to cool his heels for thirty minutes at the bar before finally being granted a table. He ordered three appetizers and three entrées. Then, after sampling each, he requested a brief word with the chef. Ten minutes elapsed before his wish was granted.

“Hungry?” asked the man called Colin Hernandez, looking down at the plates of food.

“Not really.”

“So why are you here?”

“I wanted to see if you were as good as everyone seems to think you are.”

Ogilvy extended his hand and introduced himself—rank and name, followed by the name of his boat. The man called Colin Hernandez raised an eyebrow quizzically.

“The Aurora is Spider Barnes’s boat, isn’t it?”

“You know Spider?”

“I think I had a drink with him once.”

“You weren’t alone.”

Ogilvy took stock of the figure standing before him. He was compact, hard, formidable. To the Englishman’s sharp eye, he seemed like a man who had sailed in rough seas. His brow was dark and thick; his jaw was sturdy and resolute. It was a face, thought Ogilvy, that had been built to take a punch.

“You’re Venezuelan,” he said.

“Says who?”

“Says everyone who refused to hire you when you were looking for a job.”

Ogilvy’s eyes moved from the face to the hand resting on the back of the chair opposite. There was no evidence of tattooing, which he saw as a positive sign. Ogilvy regarded the modern culture of ink as a form of self-mutilation.

“Do you drink?” he asked.

“Not like Spider.”

“Married?”

“Only once.”

“Children?”

“God, no.”

“Vices?”

“Coltrane and Monk.”

“Ever killed anyone?”

“Not that I can recall.”

He said this with a smile. Reginald Ogilvy smiled in return.

“I’m wondering whether I might tempt you away from all this,” he said, glancing around the modest open-air dining room. “I’m prepared to pay you a generous salary. And when we’re not at sea, you’ll have plenty of free time to do whatever it is you like to do when you’re not cooking.”

How generous?”

“Two thousand a week.”

“How much was Spider making?”

“Three,” replied Ogilvy after a moment’s hesitation. “But Spider was with me for two seasons.”

“He’s not with you now, is he?”

Ogilvy made a show of deliberation. “Three it is,” he said. “But I need you to start right away.”

“When do you sail?”

“Tomorrow morning.”

“In that case,” said the man called Colin Hernandez, “I suppose you’ll have to pay me four.”

Reginald Ogilvy, captain of the Aurora, surveyed the plates of food before rising gravely to his feet. “Eight o’clock,” he said. “Don’t be late.”

 

* * * * * *

 

François, the quick-tempered Marseilles-born owner of Le Piment, did not take the news well. There was a string of affronts delivered in the rapid-fire patois of the south. There were promises of reprisals. And then there was the bottle of rather good Bordeaux, empty, that shattered into a thousand shards of emerald when hurled against the wall of the tiny kitchen. Later, François would deny he had been aiming at his departing chef. But Isabelle, a waitress who witnessed the incident, would call into question his version of events. François, she swore, had flung the bottle dagger-like directly at the head of Monsieur Hernandez. And Monsieur Hernandez, she recalled, had evaded the object with a movement that was so small and swift it occurred in the blink of an eye. Afterward, he had glared coldly at François for a long moment as though deciding how best to break his neck. Then, calmly, he had removed his spotless white kitchen apron and climbed aboard his motor scooter.

He spent the remainder of that night on the veranda of his cottage, reading by the light of his hurricane lamp. And at the top of every hour, he lowered his book and listened to the news on the BBC as the waves slapped and receded on the beach and the palm fronds hissed in the night wind. In the morning, after an invigorating swim in the sea, he showered, dressed, and packed his belongings into his canvas duffel: his clothing, his books, his radio. In addition, he packed two items that had been left for him on the islet of Tortu: a Stechkin 9mm pistol with a silencer screwed into the barrel, and a rectangular parcel, twelve inches by twenty. The parcel weighed sixteen pounds exactly. He placed it in the center of the duffel so it would remain balanced when carried.

He left the beach at Lorient for the last time at half past seven and, with the duffel resting upon his knees, rode into Gustavia. The Aurora sparkled at the edge of the harbor. He boarded at ten minutes to eight and was shown to his cabin by his sous-chef, a thin English girl with the unlikely name Amelia List. He stowed his possessions in the cupboard—including the Stechkin pistol and the sixteen-pound parcel—and dressed in the chef’s trousers and tunic that had been laid upon his berth. Amelia List was waiting in the corridor when he emerged. She escorted him to the galley and led him on a tour of the dry goods pantry, the walk-in refrigerator, and the storeroom filled with wine. It was there, in the cool darkness, that he had his first sexual thought about the English girl in the crisp white uniform. He did nothing to dispel it. He had been celibate for so many months that he could scarcely recall what it felt like to touch a woman’s hair or caress the flesh of a defenseless breast.

A few minutes before ten o’clock there came an announcement over the ship’s intercom instructing all members of the crew to report to the afterdeck. The man called Colin Hernandez followed Amelia List outside and was standing next to her when two black Range Rovers braked to a halt at Aurora’s stern. From the first emerged two giggling sunburned girls and a pale florid-faced man in his forties who was holding the straps of a pink beach bag in one hand and the neck of an open bottle of champagne in the other. Two athletic-looking men spilled from the second Rover, followed a moment later by a woman who looked to be suffering from a case of terminal melancholia. She wore a peach-colored dress that left the impression of partial nudity, a wide-brimmed hat that shadowed her slender shoulders, and large opaque sunglasses that concealed much of her porcelain face. Even so, she was instantly recognizable. Her profile betrayed her, the profile so admired by the fashion photographers and the paparazzi who stalked her every move. There were no paparazzi present that morning. For once she had eluded them.

She stepped aboard the Aurora as though she were stepping over an open grave and slipped past the assembled crew without a word or glance, passing so close to the man called Colin Hernandez he had to suppress an urge to touch her to make certain she was real and not a hologram. Five minutes later the Aurora eased into the harbor, and by noon the enchanted island of Saint Barthélemy was a lump of brown-green on the horizon. Stretched topless upon the foredeck, drink in hand, her flawless skin baking in the sun, was the most famous woman in the world. And one deck below, preparing an appetizer of tuna tartare, cucumber, and pineapple, was the man who was going to kill her.

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The English Spy

The target is royal.

The game is revenge.

Stretched topless upon the foredeck, drink in hand, her flawless skin baking in the sun, was the most famous woman in the world. And one deck below, preparing an appetizer of tuna tartare, cucumber, and pineapple, was the man who was going to kill her. . . .

She is an iconic member of the British Royal Family, beloved for her beauty and charitable works, resented by her former husband and his mother, the Queen of England. But when a bomb explodes aboard her holiday yacht, British intelligence turns to one man to track down her killer: legendary spy and assassin Gabriel Allon.

Gabriel’s target is Eamon Quinn, a master bomb maker and mercenary of death who sells his services to the highest bidder. Quinn is an elusive man of the shadows—”a whisper in a half-lit chapel, a loose thread at the hem of a discarded garment”—but fortunately Gabriel does not pursue him alone. At his side is Christopher Keller, a British commando turned professional assassin who knows Quinn’s murderous handiwork all too well.

The English Spy moves at light speed from the glamorous island of Saint Barthélemy to the mean streets of West Belfast to a cottage atop the cliffs of Cornwall that Gabriel holds dear. And though he does not realize it, he is stalking an old enemy—a cabal of evil that wants nothing more than to see him dead. Gabriel will find it necessary to oblige them, for when a man is out for vengeance, death has its distinct advantages.

Filled with breathtaking twists, The English Spy will hold readers spellbound from its riveting opening passages to its heart-stopping conclusion. It is a timely reminder that there are some men in the world who will stop at nothing to achieve their goals. And it proves once again why Daniel Silva is regarded as his generation’s finest writer of international thrillers.

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Order The Heist

Purchase The Heist in hardcover, e-book, and audiobook from the following retailers:

amazon

bn

bam

ibooks

audible

indiebound

Buy: HC.com

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