Portrait of an Unknown Woman
By Daniel Silva
In a spellbinding new masterpiece by #1 New York Times bestselling author Daniel Silva, Gabriel Allon undertakes a high-stakes search for the greatest art forger who ever lived
Legendary spy and art restorer Gabriel Allon has at long last severed ties with Israeli intelligence and settled quietly in Venice, the only place where he has ever truly known peace. His beautiful wife, Chiara, has taken over the day-to-day management of the Tiepolo Restoration Company, and their two young children are discreetly enrolled in a neighborhood scuola elementare. For his part, Gabriel spends his days wandering the streets and canals of the watery city, bidding farewell to the demons of his tragic, violent past.
But when the eccentric London art dealer Julian Isherwood asks Gabriel to investigate the circumstances surrounding the rediscovery and lucrative sale of a centuries-old painting, he is drawn into a deadly game of cat and mouse where nothing is as it seems.
Gabriel soon discovers that the work in question, a portrait of an unidentified woman attributed to Sir Anthony van Dyck, is almost certainly a fiendishly clever fake. To find the mysterious figure who painted it—and uncover a multibillion-dollar fraud at the pinnacle of the art world—Gabriel conceives one of the most elaborate deceptions of his career. If it is to succeed, he must become the very mirror image of the man he seeks: the greatest art forger the world has ever known.
Stylish, sophisticated, and ingeniously plotted, Portrait of an Unknown Woman is a wildly entertaining journey through the dark side of the art world—a place where unscrupulous dealers routinely deceive their customers and deep-pocketed investors treat great paintings as though they were just another asset class to be bought and sold at a profit. From its elegant opening to the shocking twists of its climax, the novel is a tour de force of storytelling and one of the finest pieces of heist fiction ever written. And it is still more proof that, when it comes to international intrigue and suspense, Daniel Silva has no equal.
Wonderful5By Scotthole1This is a wonderful story. Can’t wait for the next book.
Gabriel Allon: Portrait of an Unknown Woman5By texasfan2011Another winner by Daniel Silva. I recommend.
Back to form4By TigersJC86After the massively disappointing previous novel, The Cellist, Daniel Silva returns to form with an excellent mystery and self contained story. Honestly, this was needed as my love for the series wained with the last novel plus I grew tired of “save the world” or “save the country” style stories. Thankfully, the author kept most of his political opinions out of the novel (not completely) and you can just enjoy the story and characters.
This one is a fake.1By LaredingIt can’t have been written by Silva. It’s mostly full of words about how stylish clothing, cars and places. There’s very little story here. You were once a great author. What happened??? That’s the real mystery.
Decent read4By TerryS4846The author has extended his Allon franchise into the character’s retirement with a pretty implausible plot line . Nevertheless it was a decent beach type read. I am still exasperated by the way the author lards up the word count in every book by repeating verbatim long descriptions of characters and events from previous novels. It’s lazy and disrespectful to the readers. Mr Silva must have a software program that fills in half the book before he even starts!
I have a bone to pick with the author5By bill.georgeI was happily reading two other books when I was notified my pre-order of “An Unknown Woman” was available for download. I have read all of the Gabriel Allon novels, and could not resist opening this one. Now I can’t put it down because the story, the characters, and the atmosphere of the book are preventing me from doing so; they are just too good and too absorbing. I am 71 and I am encouraged to believe that there will be more books in this series, since Mr. Silva is a good deal younger than I, and his imagination seems inexhaustible. I don’t want to think about a time when I might not have a Daniel Silva novel at hand.
Portrait of an Unknown Woman3By TinslerA dedicated reader of Daniel Silva, I found this read to be lacking in grabbing my attention until the very end. So it was a difficult read for me. I wanted to put It down several times, and move on to something more interesting.
portrait of an unknown woman5By CreekNineanother brilliant story by Daniel Silva. thanks for giving us a great read. Bill
Disappointed3By Bookworm1963Never thought I would find a Silva book boring, but this one was. His last 2 have been disappointing. All words and no heart. What happened?
Very Good first half3By C@1998Renowned Israeli spy master Gabriel Allon is recently retired and living in Venice with his family. On Chiara’s orders, he is enjoying an intermezzo from work, both from the spycraft and the restoration business he is an employee of now. Unfortunately, the rest is short-lived. Julian Isherwood has sold a painting to an American investor that has questionable origins, if a French woman, who contacted him upon knowing of the painting’s sale, is to be believed. If the painting is exposed as a forgery, Julian will be ruined personally and professionally. However, the fallout won’t stop there, for the art world is small and intricate. Julian asks Gabriel Allon to investigate who is behind the painting’s resurgence, who stands to profit, and who has gone to such lengths to stage a car accident to remove an unwanted witness from raising valid questions. Portrait of an Unknown Woman turned out to be a mixed bag. The first half was laugh-out-loud funny and a breeze to read. Silva has found a turn of phrase that I love, with well constructed literary images lacking in his earlier novels. I thought up to that point that it was a return to top form by the author after the last two duds. Silva kept the usual padding to a minimum, and the pace was on par with the action. However, the second half of the book was extremely dense, as it delved into the intricacies of a Ponzi scheme hedge fund that used forged paintings as collaterals to secure massive loans with which it paid dividends to its investors. It wasn’t the same level of boring as the financial discussion turned out in The Cellist, but it was dense enough. I guessed the culprit since his first appearance, though, fortunately, it didn’t affect my enjoyment of this novel. I’m starting to wonder if this franchise has run its course. Since Silva found new political leanings, he avoids the kind of foreign policy criticism and sure fire commentaries about American administrations that made this series wildly successful. I used to look forward to reading each new installment, waiting for Silva to anticipate world events and make his incisive analyses of the implications for countries the world over, and the Middle East in particular, but that is no longer the case. The world has turned vastly unpredictable, and Silva quite the opposite. Gabriel Allon used to be formidable, now he has been reduced to playing a standard detective with great connections in the criminal and the spy world alike, at least that has been the case in the last three installments. I’m not sure that Allon being retired is good for this franchise; let’s hope I’m wrong and Silva finds his footing once more. Overall, Portrait of an Unknown Woman has some pluses and minuses in its ledger. The first half is extremely good, while the second half becomes increasingly dense.