by Roger Childs
The cellist is actually German-born Isabel Brenner. She is ravishingly beautiful, impeccably dressed, highly articulate, multi-lingual and possibly the best cellist in the world. Isabel has degrees from two elite universities; is a brilliant financier; and can play complicated musical pieces in her mind without a single mistake. What’s more she is an Israeli spy working for the highly talented Gabriel Allon who is a technological wizard and works as a famous art restorer. He has featured in many of Silva’s previous books.
Set in modern times
The plot is set in the covid era and come through to the inauguration of the American president in January 2021. Politicians like Trump, Putin and Biden feature, but not by name. Silva clearly had his tongue hard against the inside of his cheek when stating: Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, companies, events or locales is entirely coincidental. There are scores of coincidences!
The plot kicks off with the exiled Viktor Orlov, previously a very rich Russian oligarch, being poisoned in London with, you guessed it, Novichock nerve agent. Allon decides to get revenge by destroying the financial empire of one of Russia’s richest men, Arkady Akimov. He is the key financier for the Russian president and yet another highly talented individual – multi-lingual, musical, very astute financially, incredibly knowledgeable etc, etc …
The locations are mainly in Europe notably Switzerland, and Israel, but the first is England the last in the US.
The story roars along at a cracking pace with short chapters and punchy dialogue, and features copious references to classical music, financial transactions, flash cars, businesses, lavish villas and parties. This is about the rich, famous and infamous who live in a world the vast majority of people can only dream of.
An event which is drawn out is a crucial gathering near the end at Courchevel in the French Alps and who should turn up but none other than Vladimir Putin, sorry, Vladamir Vladimirovich.
An interesting feature after the story ends, is the nine page “Author’s Note” where Daniel Silva outlines the links between the characters, banks, companies, galleries etc… and events, which are thinly veiled in the plot, with what was actually going on in the real world.
The Cellist is a thriller which is hard to put down and is highly recommended.
(The book is available from many libraries including Paraparaumu and Otaki.)