The Confessor by Daniel Silva

February 13, 2014

the confessor Plot summary (from the publisher): Munich: The writer Benjamin Stern entered his flat to see a man standing there, leafing through his research, and said, “Who the hell are you?” In response, the man shot him. As Stern lay dying, the gunman murmured a few words in Latin, then he gathered the writer’s papers and left.

Venice: The art restorer Gabriel Allon applied a dab of paint carefully to the Bellini, then read the message thrust into his hands. Stern was dead; could he leave right away? With a sigh, the Mossad agent began to put his brushes away.

The Vatican: The priest named Pietro paced in the garden, thinking about the things he had discovered, the enemies he would make, the journey before him. Men would surely die, and he wished another could take it for him. But he knew that was not possible. In the weeks to come, the journeys of all three men will come together, following a trail of long-buried secrets and unthinkable deeds, leaving each one forever changed. And with them, the lives of millions . . .

Filled with rich characters, remarkable prose, and a multilayered plot of uncommon intensity, this is the finest work yet by a new master of the art.

Warning: Spoilers below!


  • It was good to see Gabriel Allon actually show some emotion (over Benjamin’s death), rather than just acting like a robot all the damn time. Protagonists need vulnerabilities in order to be believable.
  • I liked that Allon crashed during a high-speed motorcycle chase and actually suffered serious injuries that required a hospital stay and extensive recuperation time. Far too often, action heroes are able to handle themselves on any kind of vehicle and never crash. Or if they do, they walk away from the wreckage with nothing more than a few cuts and bruises. The aftermath of Allon’s crash was fairly realistic in this regard.


  • I’m getting a bit tired of the religious nature of Allon’s missions. I get that he’s Israeli intelligence, but does every plot have to hinge on…Jewishness? First it was settling an old score based on the Palestine-Israel conflict. Then it was rounding up war criminals from the Holocaust. Now it’s a Vatican conspiracy to remain silent during WWII in a conscious effort to facilitate German elimination of Jews, thereby elevating Catholicism somehow. Ugh, this is so tedious.
  • The pacing in this book seemed off. I usually like the way Silva tells his stories, even if I don’t particularly care for the content, but this one was very slow to get off the ground.
  • I hate how Silva’s characters become “violently ill” just from hearing stories of rape, torture, and other atrocities. Sure, these things are horrible, but would trained agents actually vomit from HEARING a story??? We’re not talking about a crime scene walk-through or gruesome photographs; just an oral retelling of a distant event. Give me a break.


I was pretty high on the Gabriel Allon series after reading The Kill Artist, but the second and especially the third books were something of a letdown. I think I’m going to take a break from Silva for now or maybe just skip around to the best-reviewed books in the series. I give The Confessor 2 stars out of 5.

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