The English Assassin

(Critical Survey of Contemporary Fiction)

The English Assassin is the second of Daniel Silva’s books to feature Gabriel Allon, an art restorer who doubles as a spy and sometimes assassin for the Israeli government. Set in England and on the European continent, the novel recounts Allon’s attempt to solve the murder of a Swiss banker and recover his lost artwork, believed to have been obtained through collaboration with the Nazis, who stole them from Jews during World War II.

In the course of his investigation, Allon meets Anna Rolfe, daughter of the murdered banker and a concert violinist. As Allon follows various leads to identify the killer, he is tracked by agents of a secret agency sworn to preserve the secrets of Switzerland. The most nefarious agent plotting against him is Christopher Keller, a former British special forces commando now working as a paid assassin for the Corsican underworld.

Struggling to protect Anna and himself from his enemies, Allon eventually discovers the link between Anna’s father and the secret society. High in the mountains of Switzerland he confronts the leader of the group, only to be captured, interrogated, and prepared for execution. He is saved from imminent death, however, by the actions of one of those enemies whose remorse for past actions by his forebears becomes too much for him to bear.

Some readers may find the ending a bit contrived, and question the shifts in loyalties that permeate The English Assassin. One should recall, however, that similar strange occurrences have on occasion influenced the course of history. It may be easier, then, to become lost in this tale of adventure and intrigue, and appreciate the complex motives of characters whose commitment to cause and country often conflicts with their personal ideals of honor and integrity.