Cover Image: The Cellist

The Cellist

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Member Reviews

Gabriel Allon is an Israeli art restorer and secret service agent who is drawn into an operation against a prominent Russian oligarch, Arkady Akimov. At its centre is Isabel Brenner, a German cellist whose banking job has suddenly become untenable. Her new employer, Martin Landesmann, is persuaded by Allon to employ her to snare Akimov.

The reason for the targeting is due to the assassination in London of Viktor Orlov, poisoned by Novichok. Journalist Nina Antonova, who inadvertently delivers the package with its infected contents, is rescued by Allon working with British intelligence. Isabel Brenner left several similar packages that were delivered to Orlov without incident, all of them containing damning evidence against her employers.

Eye-watering sums of money change hands in the course of the story, with the power and influence it buys proving an irresistible lure to those at liberty to spend it. There is a clear line drawn between those who act altruistically and those who choose to play by a different set of rules.

The fate of the various characters is played out against a dramatic denouement involving a New Year's Eve event in the French Alps and the subsequent endgame in the United States and Israel.

This is a slick and well-plotted espionage story, with some basis in real-time events, and Gabriel Allon was a charismatic and believable lead character. The endgame was rewritten to include the American presidential election of 2020 and its aftermath, which some will see as a weakening of the plot, but it makes sense in terms of the overall arch of the story.

For those who want to understand more about the political events underpinning and informing the novel, a full explanation is given by the author at the end of the story.

Daniel Silva is an author I will be returning to, including the earlier Gabriel Allon books.

I was sent an advance review copy of this book by HarperCollins UK, in return for an honest appraisal.
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To this day, The Rembrandt Affair remains one of my favourite books I've had the pleasure of reading and without question my favourite of Daniel Silva's Gabriel Allon's series. I do however believe that The Cellist will be a case of marmite for many readers. I found it an enjoyable read on the whole but once the politics of Washington were brought in I struggled in all honesty.

I'm no fan of Trump but I don't really want to read about him in a book of fiction, real life is bad enough!! 

Not the best read unfortunately and it took me longer than usual to read the book but I will tune in for the next novel hoping things improve a little!!
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When a previously discovered art work is found in the vault at her gallery little does she know the sequence of events that will unfold and pull Gabriel Allon back onto the case after the poisoning of a Russian billionaire. 

I really enjoyed this very up to the minute spy thriller. with references to covid-19 and a failed attempt at overturning the American government by its own citizens this novel felt very of the moment with all the fear and tension that brings. Although this is number 21 in the Gabriel Allon series I was able to pick this up and enjoy the book without reading the previous books. A very gripping spy thriller that I greatly enjoyed.

Thank you to Netgalley and the publisher for a copy of the novel in exchange for an honest review
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Daniel Silva has written another taut multi layered thriller.His characters always come alive his books are multi layered and the plots are so carefully crafted.Intelligent thrillers.Highly recommend this and all his books.#netgalley#harpercollinsuj
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This was a compelling and thoroughly enjoyable read from start to finish with a great storyline, interesting cast of characters and all capped off by skilful writing of which I’ve come to expect from Daniel Silva
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A poisoned Russian dissident, an investigative journalist on the run and a non-descript German banker. Linking these three is not easy for Gabriel Allon but he will most certainly not just watch when one of his friends who once saved his life is killed with Novichok. The traces soon lead to Isabel Brenner who works at RhineBank in Zurich, the world’s dirtiest bank. Apart from calculating risks and laundering money, she also plays the cello like a professional. Deceived by her misogynist co-workers, she starts to leak information about the “Russian Laundromat”, the bank’s way of cleaning Russian oligarchs’ rubles. It does not take long for her to be convinced to work with Gabriel Allon to bring the bank and the Russians to fall. Their main target is Arkady Akimov but he himself is actually only a small figure, it is somebody much bigger and much more influential who is behind the Russian money. 

In the twenty-first novel of the series about the legendary Israeli spy and art restorer turned into director-general of the world famous intelligence service, Daniel Silva focusses on another current topic: the political influence which money can buy, especially money which was acquired illegally and washed through layers of fake firms by banks which are only too willing to profit. The author also managed to incorporate the Covid restrictions as well as the challenges to the American democracy that we have witnessed in January 2021 making it highly topical.

The cellist is a remarkable character, on the one hand, she is a highly intelligent cool mathematician who knows how to juggle with numbers and money. On the other hand, as a woman, she experiences the misogynist behaviour of her colleagues in a dominantly male business and despite her skills is prevented from unfolding her full potential. She finds solace in music, the cello she can play on her own and the impact the tone has on her own mood but also on others is amazing.

The Russians are an old but nevertheless still interesting topic in spy novels. It is not the cold war scenario of piling up destructive weapons anymore, the war between the systems is fought a lot more subtly today. Nerve agents like Novichok have become broad knowledge and the fact that money makes the world go round is also well-known. Having the financial means leads to the necessary power to rule the world, regardless of democratic systems and boundaries which only seem to exist on paper.

Silva proves again that he is a masterful storyteller. He brilliantly interweaves different plot lines to create a high paced and suspenseful novel. Still after so many instalments, one does not get exhausted by the protagonist since the author always finds a completely new story to tell.
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I always look forward to to my annual visit to the world of Gabriel Allon, Israeli spymaster extraordinaire and this year I was lucky to receive The Cellist as a review copy via NetGalley.
This instalment was slightly different in that it is set during the pandemic and it also references many current political events, particularly towards the end of the novel.
It was a very topical read in that it encompassed Russian oligarchs using Swiss banks to launder money on behalf of the state and interfere with democracy to destabilise the West.
The Cellist referenced in the title is working for one of these banks and via a series of events and a murder she is brought to Gabriel’s attention and he recruits her to try and bring down an extremely nasty Russian gangster with direct links to the Kremlin.
Usually Daniel Silva’s books transport me out of my everyday life and into the secret world of espionage and secret plots but the constant reminder of the current pandemic and other world events  meant that this book was a little different. Some of the things that happened in it only served to remind me that often life can be stranger and perhaps even more scary than fiction! 
It was an exciting and thrilling read and as usual with books by this author, once I had started it I found it difficult to put it down and despite my attempts to slow my reading to extend the enjoyment., I’d finished it over the course of a weekend.
If you are a Gabriel Allon fan you will definitely enjoy this book.  It contains all the regular characters who have been present in earlier books and of course the plot also includes a painting that needs restoration so that Gabriel can use his other skills!
Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins UK for my arc in exchange for an honest review.
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The Cellist is the twenty-first instalment in the Gabriel Allon series featuring the titular art restorer and spy in an explosive, all-new thrilling adventure. Viktor Orlov had a longstanding appointment with death. Once Russia's richest man, he now resides in splendid exile in London, where he has waged a tireless crusade against the authoritarian kleptocrats who have seized control of the Kremlin. His mansion in Chelsea's exclusive Cheyne Walk is one of the most heavily protected private dwellings in London. Yet somehow, on a rainy summer evening, in the midst of a global pandemic, Russia's vengeful president finally manages to cross Orlov's name off his kill list. Before him was the receiver from his landline telephone, a half-drunk glass of red wine, and a stack of documents. The documents are contaminated with a deadly nerve agent. The Metropolitan Police determine that they were delivered to Orlov's home by one of his employees, a prominent investigative reporter from the anti-Kremlin Moskovskaya Gazeta. And when the reporter slips from London hours after the killing, MI6 concludes she is a Moscow Center assassin who has cunningly penetrated Orlov's formidable defences. But Gabriel Allon, who owes his very life to Viktor Orlov, believes his friends in British intelligence are dangerously mistaken. 

His desperate search for the truth will take him from London to Amsterdam and eventually to Geneva, where a private intelligence service controlled by a childhood friend of the Russian president is using KGB-style "active measures" to undermine the West from within. Known as the Haydn Group, the unit is plotting an unspeakable act of violence that will plunge an already divided America into chaos and leave Russia unchallenged. Only Gabriel Allon, with the help of a brilliant young woman employed by the world's dirtiest bank, can stop it. This is a riveting, compulsive and action-packed spy thriller ripe with political intrigue and subtle social commentary on timely topics of global significance such as the virus, the recent US presidential election and the insanity, chaos and destruction of the assault on Capitol Hill on January 6, 2021, as well as political issues like Russian interference. It's decidedly gritty and moves at rapid-fire pace with a plethora of unusual twists and turns. Elegant and sophisticated, provocative and daring, it explores one of the preeminent threats facing the West today--the corrupting influence of dirty money wielded by a revanchist and reckless Russia. It is at once a novel of hope and a stark warning about the fragile state of democracy. Highly recommended.
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I’ve read all 21 of the Gabriel Allon books, and they are all well written and creative spy thrillers.  The Cellist was another solid title in the series.  Many familiar characters make an appearance, and the plot was solid as usual.  The 2020-21 pandemic is woven throughout the story.  I think it’s crucial that a political spy thriller set during this time period has to acknowledge the way the pandemic affected the world.  

I didn’t enjoy the last part of the book as much because I thought Daniel Silva injected too many of his personal political opinions.  Apparently he was in Washington DC on January 6, and the rioters at the  Congress made a huge impression on him, to the point where he rewrote the ending of this book.  I would love to read that initial ending!  

Overall I really enjoyed this book, 5 stars.
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As ever, Silva has written a detailed and knowledgeable political thriller, this time focusing on Russian malfeasance, money laundering and capitalist power-broking. I'd have to say, though, that this lacks the emotional tension and high personal stakes of many of the earlier books, and there's a slight feeling of plotting by numbers about it. Many previous characters from Gabriel Allon's long life and brought back on stage, and the first half of the story is structured through a series of extended flashbacks which can make it all feel a little stilted. It's only at about 50% that the actual plot kicks in and the Office really goes into action.

Ever since Allon has been made head of Israeli intelligence the books have become slicker and have lost the moral and questioning edge that I liked so much about the earlier ones: now it's all Bond-esque private planes with all the women being alluring and beautiful, all the men in designer suits and carrying Prada overnight bags which get name-checked in every sentence. 

All the same, if you're in the mood for a thriller with a sense of realpolitik, Silva is still my go-to.
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