“The Cellist” is a new novel that covers many subjects: art, politics, mystery, murder, international banking, espionage, and patriotism.
Daniel Silva, the author, has written about Gabriel Allon in 21 books. Allon is always the hero but each book has a different subject of intrigue and mystery. One of the recurring themes in Daniel Silva’s books always deals with art because his hero Gabriel Allon, is an art restorer, artist, and collector of art, as well as being a “master” detective.
Gabriel Allon is the James Bond of the art, detective, mystery genre. He is part of the Mossad, the Secret Service of Israel, who gets invited to solve crimes all over the world but he takes his love and interest in art with him, as he solves political problems, murders, and spy intrigues in different countries.
This incredible story focuses on the murder of a Russian billionaire art collector, Viktor Orlov, who lived in London and had published a newspaper that featured articles against Russia in it. He also had enormous funds in the RhineBank, a very large Swiss bank, who laundered money, and was run by the Russians. At one time the RhineBank supported the Nazi regime and has a ruthless reputation. Viktor was so important he received monthly reports on the figures of the RhineBank’s financial activities, as well as his own accounts.
The book opens in the present and we learn that a Russian reporter, Nina Antonov, has just delivered some papers to Viktor Orlov, in his London mansion, leaving immediately.
Sarah Bancroft, manager of the Isherwood Gallery of London, arrives with quotes on a current artwork which she wants to sell and is shocked to find Viktor dead at his desk. She notices white powder on the papers in front of him. Bancroft, a retired C.I.A member, before becoming a London gallery art dealer, recognizes international trouble and calls Gabriel Allon for help.
Gabriel arranges to meet Nina Antonova, a strong suspect in the murder of Viktor Orlov, in Amsterdam, where she is hiding. They agree to meet at the Van Gogh Museum in the room where the painting of Van Gogh’s yellow flowers is located. Nina is saved by Gabriel and is whisked into a Safe House. She was just a messenger used by Russia to get inside Viktor’s house. The author, Daniel Silva, paints words in his books like Van Gogh painted images on his canvases in the use of colors and detailed descriptions of places across the globe.
However, there are so many characters in this story, I had to keep a “post-it” tab list of characters to keep track of them!
But a key to the whole story is Elizabeth Brenner, “The Cellist” who is an important accountant/comptroller working for the RhineBank and knows what is going on inside the bank. She knows the bank is under Russian control. She knows about the stability of the bank itself and how much they need money. She knows about Viktor’s money and how it is used.
Elizabeth understands that the bank needs Viktor and Viktor needs the bank and Russia controls everything. She prepares monthly documents for Viktor on the activities of the bank and his own accounts. (In her spare time she plays the cello. It calms her down and gives her beauty in life.) Low key and behind the scenes, she has a brilliant mathematical mind and is a gifted musician. She plays long passages on the cello without the need of music sheets. Precise and accurate, she is German and does not confuse facts with fantasy. A loner, she is highly self-disciplined and not intimidated by anyone or any country. She knows clearly what is going on behind the scenes at the bank, and plays her cello for joy in the healing force of creativity that it brings to her life.
Another name to remember (among many) is Arkady Arkimov, leader of The Haydn Group. Arkady and The Haydn Group represent a private investigative organization that is trying to bring down democracy behind the scenes, never getting caught, always looking helpful, but always letting the chips of blame fall on other countries and people.
The locations found in this book include London, Switzerland, Zurich, Germany, Russia, Israel, Amsterdam, and America. At one point the reader is taken to Delaware in America and the author implies Allon saves the current president’s life. (She dies this without using the president's name.)
If you love art, detective stories, politics, world travel, fast dialogue, lots of action, and James Bond mysteries, you will love Gabriel Allon in this book !!! If you want to find out who killed Viktor Orlov you will have to read the story. I recommend it highly.