I have read the 122nd book for the book challenge. It was Portrait Of A Spy (Gabriel Allon) by Daniel Silva.
Gabriel Allon is a painting restorer. He is also a spy. He works for the Israeli secret service. He is in London having coffee with his wife when he sees a terrorist carrying a bomb and he follows him and tries to get a shot off to kill him before the bomb goes off. Instead he is stopped by police and the terrorist detonates the bomb and many people are killed.
Gabriel and the Israeli secret service know that a new al-Quaeda cell is funding a rash of bombings and they need to shut it down. They devise a plan to fund a terrorist and take him out. They need help from the Americans to do this. But the Americans want to run the show. They want complete control of the operation. Gabriel and the secret service manage to stall them on this and fill them in on the plans only. They will get a world-famous Saudi businesswoman, Nadia al-Bakari, to front the money to an al-Quaeda terrorist cell and then take out the cell leaders.
The secret service team meets incognito with businesswoman Nadia al-Bakari. Her father funded terrorists and was killed by Gabriel several years ago. She was very upset by his death, but she is a modern woman. She understands what Gabriel wants her to do and agrees to do it. The sting will involve moving a piece of art. Gabriel will restore a painting and it will come onto the market. Nadia will buy it and the money will go into the coffers of the al-Quaeda terrorists. Gabriel and the secret service will track it and then take them down.
The sting works and the al-Quaeda cell is shut down. But Gabriel and the secret service want to go after the leader of the cell and ask Nadia if she would be willing to meet with another leader who is closer to the big leader. They may be able to get this American leader this way. She agrees and goes to Dubai to meet with Malik. She has a meeting with Malik but he is suspicious and kidnaps her. Gabriel goes after her and they are taken into the Empty Quarter of Saudi Arabia. They are held there and threatened with death. Malik is about to shoot Gabriel when Nadia steps in front of the bullet and dies. A young Saudi man who is guarding them kills Malik and saves Gabriel.
Gabriel is held hostage by the Saudis and interviewed for days. The American government intervenes and he is finally released. Gabriel is filled with guilt over the death of Nadia. He had promised to keep her safe and now she is dead. He decides to do a portrait of her. He retreats to his home in Cornwall and paints a beautiful portrait of Nadia.
Nadia’s art collection has been left to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. There is a gala to open the Nadia al-Bakari wing of the Museum with her paintings. Gabriel’s portrait is there. While Gabriel and his wife are there, they get a call togo to Washington, D.C. Something important is happening.
Gabriel and his wife fly to Washington, D.C. The CIA has found the American leader of al-Quaeda and Malik in a car in Germany. They just need to make voice recognition and if they do, they will take them out with a drone strike. They make voice recognition and a drone takes out the two leaders. Nadia’s death is avenged.
Gabriel and his wife return to Cornwall and Gabriel returns to a life of restoring painting.
This was an exciting book. It was a thriller. Gabriel is a very likeable character for an assassin. He works for the Israeli secret service and has to walk a thin line with the Americans. You want the Americans to butt out and leave the Israeli to do the sting on their own but the Americans have to have their fingers in everything. Nadia is also an extremely likeable woman. You feel terrible when she dies but you know it’s coming. She is a martyr for the cause. This is a great story.