I was about to start this review by saying this isn’t my ‘usual read’, then I thought I don’t really have a usual read.
I’m a mood reader. I don’t have a particular favourite genre, I do have a few must read authors but on the whole, I’ll pick up anything as long as it sounds like a good story, hence why I picked up The Kill Artist by Daniel Silva.
The Kill Artist is about retired Mossad agent Gabriel Allon, he’s dragged back in by his old friend Ari Shamron (who is now the director) after an Israeli ambassador is murdered in Paris.
The hit has all the markings of Tariq al-Hourani, the man who planted a bomb under the car of Allon’s family, killing his son and leaving his wife with life changing injuries.
Since then, Allon has been living a quiet life, living in Cornwall, working full time as an art restorer. When Tariq reappears in Paris, Shamron turns up on Gabriel’s doorstep and convinces him to come back for one final job. He accepts, rather quickly to be honest.
Gabriel recruits French supermodel Jacqueline Delacoix, real name Sarah Halevy, to seduce a target, her name during the operation is Dominque Bonard. Jacqueline/Dominque/Sarah has worked with Allon before, they’ve had some kind of affair though I’m not entirely sure about the details because they only seemed to spend a week together in Tunis posing as husband and wife, but whatever.
What follows is a fast-paced story that takes us across Europe, to Canada and finally America. It’s got plenty of twists, it’s written in a way that keeps you intrigued enough to stick with it, it’s exciting and on the whole a good story, I liked the plot and I enjoyed the final twist at the end
However, I did have problems with it.
The characters seemed a bit flat, I never felt like I really understood them or knew them at all.
I don’t think I could tell you much about Gabriel Allon. He’s been a ruthless killer but seems to carry a lot of guilt about that and what happened to his family; he just wants to restore paintings, go out on his boat in Cornwall and be left in peace. He absolutely does not want Ari Shamron rocking up and ruining his day.
I have no idea why he became a spy in the first place or how he really thinks. I know why he’s been tempted out of retirement for this job but that wasn’t really enough for me. I needed more of a back story; I’m guessing that may come in other books in this series.
Dominique/Jacqueline/Sarah or whatever the hell she was calling herself by the end of book really frustrated me and I’m sorry to say I just didn’t find her believable.
I couldn’t understand why she was apparently head over in heels in love with Gabriel Allon – I mean they’d spent a week together in Tunis over a decade ago, hadn’t spoken since and had zero chemistry.
The suggestion was there that he liked her too but the whole ‘romance’ (there was no romance) felt really forced and like an unnecessary plot driver. They barely spoke, in fact they only talked about the mission, and I failed to see what they had in common.
As readers we’re supposed to believe that Dominique/Jacqueline/Sarah (I really should have decided what name to refer to her as) was this incredibly ruthless and effective asset as a secret agent for the office, who’d been trained to act as a spy and was good at it, had her own reasons for taking part in missions and yet, and yet, one of the only reasons she’s come back and got involved with this mission is because Gabriel Allon asked her to? Give me a break.
Her back story was enough of a motivation for her and a more plausible reason as to why she’d step away from modelling for a few weeks to risk being killed. Even her actions in the final show down are all driven by her love for this guy. It’d be nice if just once in these stories, the women could be written in a more rounded way; why are they always either damsels in distress with little agency or vital to helping the hero but obviously have to want have sex with them as well – it’s a beyond boring trope.
I’d have liked Dominique/Jacqueline/Sarah to have been involved because she’s a vicious bitch hell bent on revenge, has secretly harboured fantasies of killing people all her life or was just bored, literally any other reason would have been better than ‘I love this man I have no chemistry with’.
I also got very bored of reading how beautiful she was in every single chapter. The fact she was a model, part time agent and was stunningly beautiful was really rammed home. I was tempted to make a note of every reference to what she looked like but was too far in by that point. She’s hot, we get it, we don’t need telling constantly especially as I couldn’t really picture Gabriel Allon – if memory serves me correct, he was just muscly. Also, she did all the bloody work and should have been given more credit for that.
I haven’t written the series off, I did like the story, I liked the pace and tight writing. It did keep me reading, I wanted to see how it was resolved, though the end felt slightly anti-climactic.
It was a plot I got on board with but for me, I needed more characterisation, fewer well-trodden tropes and more plausibility.
A three star read….three and a half if pushed.
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