"If you think Italians have a long memory, you should spend some time in the Middle East. We're the ones who invented the vendetta, not the Sicilians." So maintains Gabriel Allon, art restorer and Mossad hit man, star of Silva's second thriller series (The Mark of the Assassin, etc.). Gabriel is once again reluctantly dragged from his day job (he's working on a Bellini in Venice) by Israeli spymaster Ari Shamron, who heads a team of sleeper Mossad agents scattered all over the world. This time, it's a revenge mission: one of Shamron's agents (an academic working on an exposé about the Vatican's collaboration with the Nazis) has been assassinated. The gunman was working for a secret Vatican society known as Crux Vera. Composed of Roman Curia members and shady rich thugs, this shadow group intends to kill the latest pope to keep him from exposing the Vatican's secret archives. In order to find the gunman (known as "the Leopard," a reclusive European of independent means who hires out his deadly skills to the highest bidder), Gabriel must take up his slain colleague's research, something the Italian and German governments assuredly do not want him to do. Gabriel is hounded all across Europe as he tries to find out the truth about the Nazi collaborators, save the pope and get the Leopard. Silva draws on bizarre WWII secrets uncovered by historians like Susan Zuccotti (whom Silva credits) for his premise. Though the plot sticks close to Silva's well-honed formula, the provocative historical revelations will keep readers enthralled. (Feb.)
Forecast:National advertising and a radio satellite tour should insure Silva's usual robust sales.