BOOKS: Portrait of an Unknown Woman: Daniel Silva

·2 min read

Jul. 30—July means celebrating American independence, enjoying some time at the beach, dealing with summer heat, reluctantly preparing for kids to go back to school and, for some readers, picking up the newest Gabriel Allon adventures by author Daniel Silva.

"Portrait of an Unknown Woman," the new Silva book, arrived in book stores less than two weeks ago.

Here, Allon has retired from serving as the director of the Israeli intelligence agency and plans to dive deep into his passion for restoring paintings by the Renaissance masters. But before he returns to any kind of work, Chiara, his wife, insists the retired spy spend a few weeks relaxing.

While Chiara may regret her decision, readers should be glad she made it.

Instead of resting, Allon becomes embroiled in tracking and uncovering an art forgery ring.

Granted, Allon may not be working to foil people intent on assassinating a world leader or setting off a bomb in a crowded European plaza or Middle East terrorists wreaking havoc on Israel soil or the Russian mob but "Portrait" is no less intriguing and suspenseful. It is a page-turner.

Longtime Silva readers know that Allon's passion for art has played a part in several of the books. Fans should enjoy this adventure into the art world. Several recurring supporting characters return as strong players in this novel, while others from the Israeli intelligence corps are not present this go-round.

One sidebar note: Silva has penned about two dozen Gabriel Allon books, roughly one book annually for the past 25 years. Allon was not young when the series started. Silva has made him a fictional part of the Israeli team that avenged the slaying of Israeli athletes in Munich during the 1972 Olympic Games ... though Allon has been described as a very young man at the time. Meanwhile, Silva creates a backdrop that is very much contemporary to the times when the book is published, meaning it's the world of 2022 in "Portrait of an Unknown Woman."

Silva stretches the definition of "late middle age" in describing Allon since he would likely be in his early 70s or at least in his late 60s. Though I didn't notice a Munich reference in this latest novel.

Hopefully, Silva has plans to age his main character slowly and keep him "late middle age" as long as possible, no matter the year.

After all, what would July be without Gabriel Allon?