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What to Read: The Heist, a Review by Mark Holzberg

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October 01, 2014
What to Read
Mark Holzberg

What's On the Bookshelf
Over the years, we’ve had numerous conversations with industry leaders and often one of the topics that we discuss is the latest book read. We thought it would be fun to share some of these booklover conversations with our readers. Here are what our industry leaders are reading.

The Heist, By Daniel Silva
[Review by Mark Holzberg, CEO, Hospitality Technical Services]

About 10 years ago, in the pre-Kindle days, I picked up a paperback book at an airport bookstore by a writer I had not heard of, Daniel Silva. I cannot recall where I was flying to or why, but I can tell you that I finished the book, The Kill Artist, before the end of the trip, and immediately went to Barnes & Noble when I returned home to buy Silva’s three earlier books: Unlikely Spy, The Mark of the Assassin and The Marching Season. All three books were similarly devoured in a couple of weekends. I was hooked… and each summer I wait eagerly for the newest Silva book to come out… and immediately jumps to the top of the New York Times bestseller list … and now, into my Kindle.

Silva’s last 14 novels, including this summer’s The Heist, all center around the key character, Gabriel Allon. Allon is an Israeli of epic proportion and slight height (around 5-feet 8 inches, which I can relate to).  He is a gifted art restorer as well as a very senior Mossad (Israeli intelligence) officer and successful assassin. The Heist is a combination crime mystery and espionage page turner. As the pages turn, you realize how much you’ve missed Allon and his band of spies over the past year.

The book begins with Allon being recruited to help recover perhaps the most famous stolen painting in the world, Caravaggio’s Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence. As the crime mystery and espionage thriller merge, Allon uncovers multiple murders all linked to the Caravaggio and a real life Arab dictator (you need to read the book to discover which one) engaged in both ruthless thuggery and money laundering. Now, in addition to recovering the stolen masterpiece, Allon must engage his small team of Mossad’s best and brightest, a brave young German woman whose family had suffered mightily at the hands of the dictator, and a former British SAS operator turned contract killer (albeit a good guy… for a killer) to plot one of the most ambitious intelligence operations ever conceived by Mossad.

The Heist is a tour de force that takes you through the streets of London and Paris, the canals of Venice, and through Geneva, parts of Austria, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and more, all with vivid detail. You can practically taste the wine in the bistro and smell the coffee in the cafés. The characters develop and come to life as you get to know them all, and Silva manages to weave in contemporary events and the new dynamics of the Middle East. As another reviewer on “Books & Wine” commented, “A fallen British spy, a one-eyed Italian policeman, a master art thief, a professional assassin…so goes the irresistible characters assembled in The Heist. Silva’s literary command is as beautiful as the art identified in the story.” I couldn’t have said it better. Now your challenge is to get the book and download Silva’s earlier 13 Gabriel Allon novels, and decide which to read first! With another year to wait for the next Silva thriller, I think I’ll tuck into The Second Machine reviewed by Monika Nerger in the last issue and then hit Phil Jackson’s Eleven Rings: The Soul of Success taken on by Page Petry.

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