Portrait of an Unknown Woman

Portrait of an Unknown Woman (Gabriel Allon #22)

by Daniel Silva
Published on July 19, 2022
Pages: 496

#1 New York Times bestselling author Daniel Silva delivers another stunning thriller in his latest action-packed tale of high stakes international intrigue.
A gripping story of deception in the world of international fine art. Restorer and spy Gabriel Allon embarks on a dangerous hunt across Europe for the secret behind the forgery of a 17th century masterpiece that has fooled experts and exchanged hands for millions. Bestselling author Daniel Silva follows up his acclaimed #1 New York Times bestsellers The Cellist, The Order and The New Girl with this stunning new novel.

I don’t generally review any books that I read in long-running series because what can you really say? Every plot point may be a spoiler for past books. I recently listened to a short story that took place in a series that I had stopped reading several books back. I listened to the whole story in utter shock. The main character had lost an arm, gotten a new girlfriend, lost some of his previous supernatural abilities, and moved to Australia.

I’ve always been a fan of series that show growth in the characters. After a million books, Janet Evanovich’s Stephanie Plum is still doing the same job and in the same love triangle. It can be fun to slip into a comfortable story but it can get old. In contrast, a series like The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher is so far away from where it started that you never quite know what is coming next.

This entry in the world of Gabriel Allon revitalized the series by making a total change. Allon was an Israeli spy. His backstory is that he was an art student when he was recruited to be part of the team that killed the terrorists who killed the Israeli Olympic Athletes in 1972. He uses art restoring as a cover. Over the course of the series he has a lot of missions and then becomes the director of his agency. Time is passing in the books. For the last 5 books or so I’ve been doing math. He’s getting old. He can’t be running around beating on people for much longer. I figured the story would be done soon. At the end of the last book, he retired. So, what is there to write about?

After a brief time of rest and recuperation, Allon is contacted by an old friend who fears that he has been a victim of a very expensive scam. He asks Allon to help him figure it out. This leads him into the world of art forgery. A whole thriller plot ensues that brings back some favorite characters from the series but removes it all from high stakes geopolitics.

I think this is one of my favorite books in the series. It was fun again. The last few books were sort of depressing because they closely mirrored the world as we know it and reality is depressing. This was high stakes for the art and financial worlds. Those aren’t directly affecting my life like the political stories were so it seemed a lot lighter. This is a great way to move a long running story into the future.