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.