Snapshots - #37: It, Breathe, Mark Felt – The Man Who Brought Down the White House

It (2017), (♦♦♦♦): Four inseparable friends in middle school bond with other three newcomers. They all have in common that they are bullied by the same people. Over the course of one summer they'll fend off bullies and face a centuries-old demon in the form of a clown, named Pennywise, whom has been disappearing kids and terrorizing the town of Derry, Maine, every twenty-seven years since the town was founded.
Based on Stephen King's novel of the same title, It is a movie with a smart script and a sympathetic ensemble of nerds that deliver light humor, and deep thrills. It doesn't hurt that each and every character has his or her own arc, thus one gets to know their motivations and fears before Pennywise enters head on into the picture.
In a nod to 1980s movie classics such as The Goonies, and the Brat Pack ensemble, the newest adaptation of It takes place at the end of that decade, when it seems, at least from the Hollywood perspective, that every kid harbored a genius insi…

The English Assassin by Daniel Silva (♦♦♦♦½)

Gabriel Allon, former Israeli spy and assassin, is secretly commissioned by Swiss banker Augustus Rolfe to restore a Raphael’s in his possession, but when Gabriel arrives to the banker’s villa, he finds him dead. Expertly, Gabriel rushes out of the villa and tries to leave Zurich in the first train out; instead, he is captured by police and interrogated as the main suspect of Rolfe’s murder.

After endless negotiations between Bern and Tel Aviv, Gabriel is released with the condition to never re-enter Swiss soil. Gabriel is picked up by Ari Shamron, who tells Gabriel that the late Rolfe had approached Jewish sources and was willing to say something, only they don’t know what because of his untimely death. Gabriel swears to find out who killed Rolfe and why. Enter Anna Rolfe, the only surviving member of the Rolfe family, Augustus Rolfe’s estranged daughter. With Anna’s help, Gabriel learns that the apparent motive behind the killing is the theft of famous paintings that came into the late banker’s possession during WW II.

During his investigation, Gabriel comes across The Englishman, a former British soldier, long presumed dead, who is now gunslinger for a mysterious organization of Swiss bankers known as the Council of Rutli. With a target on his head, Gabriel will have to protect Anna Rolfe and himself if he is to find out the truth.

The English Assassin is a great follow up to The Kill Artist, in which the exploits of former Israeli spy and assassin Gabriel Allon are introduced. This second installment in the saga is a pure adrenaline ride. Temporarily away from Middle East politics, Silva chooses to focus on the dirty secrets of the old guard of Swiss bankers and the convenient alliance that Switzerland formed with Nazi Germany for mutual benefit. Switzerland provided safekeeping for Nazi looted property from Jews that were sent to their deaths, while Germany benefited from hard currency and arms provided by the Swiss.

The English Assassin is similar in scope to a later chapter in the series, namely The Rembrandt Affair, only after investigating the provenance of a painting and discovering the Nazi connection, The Rembrandt Affair shifts towards contemporary issues such as Iran’s development of centrifuges to process enriched uranium.

I really liked this book, more so than the first installment. Heart pounding suspense and endless twists are the norm in this book. Here Julian Isherwood makes a brief yet relevant appearance. Ari Shamron also plays a pivotal role making Gabriel do things he is reluctant to do, as usual. Gabriel, in the main role, most times alone, sometimes working with a team of trained Israeli operatives, is more determined than ever to find out who is behind the assassination of Augustus Rolfe and to deliver justice to the culprits. We know he survives, the question is how.


  1. I just now finished this one. I had to keep reminding myself that Gabriel survives because of all the following books, but I do wonder how he can keep up this pace for so many more volumes. Anyway, it was great!

    1. You read the second quite soon! Yes, Gabriel gets battered pretty bad in several books, which I like, because that shows he is more human than many assassins in this type of literature.


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