When fate plays a hand in ending the life of a possible terrorist recruiter, information of a planned attack on the Vatican and the threat of the assassination of the pope fall into Israeli hands. The special security advisor to the Prime Minister of Israel, Ari Shamron, seeks out the help of the best man for the job, his old friend and one time recruit, Gabriel Allon.
Gabriel seeks a conference with the pope’s private secretary, Monsignor Luigi Donati, a longtime friend, in hopes of thwarting the attack on the pope and the Vatican. As events unfold and the stakes rise higher, it soon becomes clear that the terrorist web runs wide and deep. The leader of the terrorist group called the Brotherhood of Allah is believed to be Ahmed bin Shafiq, a former employee of General Intelligence Department, the Saudi intelligence service. At the request of the CIA and his own government, Gabriel assembles a team to penetrate the heart of the organization believed to be hiding the Shafiq, a feared and most evasive man. It is not an easy undertaking, for it is believed that Shafiq has the protection of a wealthy and powerful Saudi businessman called Abdul Aziz al-Bakari, or Zizi, as his friends call him.
Gabriel will need someone special if he is to infiltrate the organization, as Zizi is sure to recognize an Israeli plant. Gabriel Allon turns to American Sarah Bancroft, a failed CIA candidate, for help. She is beautiful and intelligent, and her background as an art curator proves to be just the ticket Gabriel needs to lure in Zizi and hope he will take the bait. From there on out, the novel offers nonstop suspense.
Daniel Silva captures the volatile political climate of today, delving into the economic resources of terrorists, the Saudis’ influence on America, global terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism. Although slanted in favor of the Israelis (difficult not to do considering who the lead character is), the author does offer differing views on the approach to terrorism through the eyes of his many characters. This provides a much-required balance.
Although I felt a little something was missing, having not read any other books by Daniel Silva starring the famous Gabriel Allon, it is not necessary to have done so. The Messenger is very much a stand-alone. There was a lot of set up, which played an integral part of the story. It is plot driven, intriguing and an enjoyable read. The Messenger definitely developed my appetite to read more by Daniel Silva, in particular to go back and start at the beginning with Gabriel Allon.