The Heist’s Gabriel Allon: How Daniel Silva Creates a Sympathetic Character

Welcome to my blog!

Welcome to my blog!

Since I’m a great believer in analyzing what makes a book excellent and/ or popular, I chose “The Heist” by Daniel Silva. Not only does the author keep the reader engaged with exciting plot, excellent character development, precise language, descriptive settings, historical details, a love of fine art and a direct and to the point writing style but also creates an intriguing international spy thriller.

Let’s take a look at the book. Gabriel Allon is an Israeli art restorer, spy, secret agent, assassin who assumes different identities and disguises as he travels around the world to right wrongs and keep the world safe from those conspiring to inflict harm. Mario Delvecchio is the name Gabriel uses in this book as he works for the Vatican to restore art masterpieces, specifically at the altar of a Venetian church. The Mossad summons Gabriel to help a friend who has become embroiled in an international incident involving murder and the stolen and missing masterpiece “Nativity” by Caravaggio. And so the plot thickens as Gabriel leaves the relative safety of Italy to follow a trail of clues that leads him to civil war torn Syria. Gabriel demonstrates extreme loyalty to Syrian Jihan Nawaz as he pays millions of dollars in ransom money that could have been his in order to save this astounding woman.

Here’s what we learn about Gabriel. He is loyal, steadfast, incorruptible and beyond reproach. He speaks at least five languages. His parents were Holocaust survivors. His mother named him after the angel, Gabriel, the mightiest of the angels. His father died fighting for Israel. His grandfather was a famous artist who instilled a love and appreciation of art and painting in his grandchildren. Gabriel’s first wife, Leah was severely burned and his young son killed by a car bomb meant for him. Leah remains disfigured in a psychiatric hospital  with only fleeting moments of reality. The hospital is located across from Mount Olive in Israel where their child is buried. Gabriel is haunted by thoughts of his dead son. Gabriel visits Leah often but has remarried. Chiara is a Venetian Jew who also aids Israel in keeping the world safe. When pregnant with their first child, Chiara was kidnapped and miscarried. Now she is pregnant with twins and all is well– so far. Gabriel shows great loyalty to his friends and colleagues, visits them when in hospital and stays by their bedside when in danger of death.

Not all of this information is revealed in “The Heist.” This is actually the seventeenth book involving Gabriel and the fourteenth in this series. Some of it is revealed over time and much of it is repeated. Don’t you feel as if you know Gabriel Allon? He is full of pain but struggles to go on with his life. Daniel Silva does not present him as a soppy character, but as a survivor with a purpose–restoring art, ridding the world of evil and enjoying a happy family life.

In fact,  in 1969 the “Nativity” by Caravaggio was actually stolen from a church in Palermo, Sicily and has never been recovered.

Let’s take  a look at some of the strong verbs and adjectives used in “The Heist.”            Verbs –relitigate, flogging, devised, possessed, crushed, predicted, inspected, collected, reappeared, boarded, obligated, lecture, posing, trimming, disabuse, dawdled, twirled, rotated, draped, scrutinized, sped                                                                                          Adjectives –taciturn, posh, craqulure, lull, footsore, mantis-like, bespectacled, prominent, notched, capitulatory, rudimentary, tactical, concessionary, disused, sprawling

Unlike Dan Brown, Daniel Silva manages to portray sensitive events without being hell bent on denigrating and destroying beliefs in anyone’s religion. You won’t find any self-flagelating monks, shallow characters or hidden messages in paintings that attempt to poke holes in religious dogma. Daniel Silva  approaches writing as a craft rather than a sensational money making scheme. We’d need an actor with a lot more depth than Tom Hanks to play Gabriel Allon. Maybe Daniel Silva will acquiesce to requests for movie rights? He first needs to trust in an actor who will do justice in his portrayal of  this complex character.  Slim pickings  out there. Any suggestions?

© 2014 All rights reserved. No part of this content may be reprinted or used in any form without express permission from Elaine Donadio Writes.

To hear what Daniel Silva has to say about “The Heist” watch this video.

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