The Rembrandt Affair by Daniel Silva
Gabriel Allon, accomplished art restorer and retired Israeli spy, retreats to Cornwall with his wife to recuperate following a disastrous mission in Russia. Naturally he doesn’t get to simply relax. An old friend, a well-respected art dealer named Isherwood, has a big problem. He brokered a deal with the National Gallery of Art in Washington D.C. to sell them a heretofore unknown Rembrandt on behalf of a client. In preparation of the sale he entrusted the painting to a professional for restoration. The restorer is murdered and the painting is gone. Isherwood didn’t mention the painting to his insurers to forego paying the extra premiums so if the painting is not found he’s out $45 million. That’s why he’s extremely desperate to have the painting found and asks Allon for his help.
Follows is a trip around the world establishing where the painting has been in hopes that it will lead to clues to where the painting is now. Nazi war criminals, Swiss bank accounts and shady philanthropists all come together to explain the hidden life of the painting. Allon travels from the British countryside to Argentina, London and Switzerland to track down the painting and assembles a team of Israeli agents after the investigation leads to information that seems to show Iran is getting ready to make nuclear weapons.
If you haven’t read any of the fifteen Gabriel Allon thrillers this is one that can be read as a standalone so you can try the series out. It is tenth in the series, and events from past books are alluded to, but I never felt like I didn’t know what was going on. A longtime fan may have been happy to see characters from past books appear in this one, but the characters were well-described and I was fine being introduced to them here. I’m not a huge fan of spy novels, but this one was more art heist and backroom double dealing than true full on spycraft. It was fast paced and adhered often to the tenants of Murphy’s Law, things that could go wrong often did, but the good guys prevailed in the end. Overall a very enjoyable quick read.