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Bethanne
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Daniel Silva, July 27-31

Welcome, Daniel Silva, to Center Stage; Silva will be discussing all of his novels, including the new Gabriel Allon title The Defector.

 

Daniel Silva's 1997 debut, The Unlikely Spy, was a novel of love and deception set around the Allied invasion of France in World War II. His second and third novels, The Mark of the Assassin and The Marching Season, starred two of Silva's most memorable characters: CIA officer Michael Osbourne and international hit man Jean-Paul Delaroche.

 

Silva's fourth novel, The Kill Artist, featured the art restorer and sometime Israeli secret agent Gabriel Allon, and though Silva did not realize it at the time, Gabriel's adventures had only just begun. Gabriel Allon appeared in Silva's next seven novels, each one more successful than the last: The English AssassinThe ConfessorA Death in Vienna,Prince of Fire, The Messenger and The Secret Servant, and Moscow Rules.

 
Silva knew from a very early age that he wanted to become a writer, but his first profession would be journalism. Born in Michigan, raised and educated in California, he was pursuing a master's degree in international relations when he received a temporary job offer from United Press International to help cover the 1984 Democratic National Convention in San Francisco. Later that year Silva joined UPI fulltime, working first in San Francisco, then on the foreign desk in Washington, and finally as Chief Middle East correspondent in Egypt and the Persian Gulf. In 1987, while covering the Iran-Iraq war, he met NBC Today Show correspondent Jamie Gangel. They were married within the year. Silva returned to Washington and went to work for CNN as Executive Producer of the talk show unit which included shows such as CrossfireCapital Gang and Reliable Sources.

 
In 1995 he secretly began work on the manuscript that would eventually become The Unlikely Spy. After the book's successful publication, he left CNN and began writing full time. He continues to reside in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. with his wife and 13-year-old twins, Lily and Nicholas.  When not writing he can usually be found roaming the stacks of the Georgetown University library, where he does much of the research for his books.  
 
All of Silva's books have been New York Times and international bestsellers. His books have been translated into more than 25 languages. He is already at work on a new Gabriel Allon novel and warmly thanks all those friends and loyal readers who have helped to make the series a success.

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Alex99
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31

I've read all your books and I love especially the Gabriel Allon series .Are there any plans to doing any books that are not part of the  Gabriel Allon series?Where do you get your ideas from and how  do you keep the Gabriel Allon titles from getting stale?Are we ever going to see movies based of you books?

Thanks,

Alex

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Bethanne
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31

Good morning, Center Stage visitors and Daniel Silva readers. I know Silva will join us today, but to kick things off, his publisher was kind enough to provide us with a brief Q&A:

 

Penguin/Putnam: Critics have hailed Gabriel Allon as one of the most fascinating characters on the literary landscape today. But he's not the typical hero, is he?

 

Daniel Silva: Not at all. First of all, there's the issue of his nationality. He can pass as an Italian or a German, but in reality Gabriel Allon is an Israeli. He started his career for Israeli intelligence when he was very young. In fact, he was still in art school when he was recruited to hunt down and kill the perpetrators of the 1972 Munich Olympics massacre. But what makes Gabriel unique-and what makes him so attractive to many different kinds of readers-is his cover job. Gabriel is truly one of the finest art restorers in the world. He uses restoration not only as his cover but as a way to heal himself after difficult operations.

 

PP: Your books have a very sharp sense of setting and place. Do you actually go to all the places you write about?

 

DS: In the case of The Defector, I really have: a chess club in Bloomsbury, a quiet mews in Maida Vale, a dingy, dilapidated terraced house in Oxford, an isolated villa in the Haute-Savoie region of France. I've even been inside the headquarters of the FSB (the Russian Federal Security Service, what is known as today's KGB). I think it's important to walk the streets that Gabriel walks. I'm not just using sexy datelines. I've been to these places and for the most part rendered them accurately-although, occasionally, I take a bit of literary license. For example, the members of the real chess club in Bloomsbury are a much more princely lot than the ones who appear on the pages of The Defector

 

PP: What is your writing process like? Has it become easier over the years?

 

DS: I wish I could say it's become easier, but, in reality, the opposite is true. I always thought that once I had a few books under my belt, I would discover some magic secret to writing one. But the truth is, there is no magic secret. Each book is a unique and surprising journey, and when I get to the end of it, I'm always a bit surprised I actually made it.

 

PP: What do you want readers to get out of this book? 

 

DS: First and foremost, I want them to be entertained. I want them to be swept away in a fast-paced story with moments of great human drama and excitement. At the same time, it is a cautionary tale. I want them to understand that the more things change, the more they stay the same, and that we'll need to keep one eye focused on Russia as we move forward in the years ahead.

 

PP: So what's next for Gabriel Allon?

 

DS: Perhaps a bit of rest, but not for too long. It's a dangerous world. And I have no doubt someone is going to require his services in the very near future. After all, he is Gabriel Allon.

  

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Hotpen
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31

I'm a huge fan. Thanks so much for doing this, Mr. Silva. I've got two questions. Did you run into any problems with the Russian authorities while researching your latest books? Also, will we ever see a Gabriel Allon movie? Who could you picture in the role? Whoops! That's 3 questions. Sorry!

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Bethanne
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31

Hi, Alex99 and Hotpen! Great to see some new "faces" here on Center Stage. I can't wait to hear Daniel Silva's answers to your questions.

 

Here's one from me for Silva: What's it been like for you to develop the character of Chiara?

 

Bethanne 

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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31

[ Edited ]

Here's a great interview with Daniel in which he discusses The Defector. Take a look!

 

 



Message Edited by PaulH on 07-28-2009 08:35 AM
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LucNesbitt
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31

I'm a huge fan of your books and needless to say have read and recommended them all.  I've greatly enjoyed watching the characters develop over time, which leads to my questions regarding the development of the ancillary characters to Gabriel.  Where did you find your inspiration for Ari Shamron?  Rimona and Dina?  Uzi Navot?  Eli Lavon? They all have such histories and play critical roles in your novels that I feel we know them almost as well as we do Gabriel.  Do you ever wonder if they will become stale to your long-time fans that know their back story so well?  If so, how will you expand their characters to keep them fresh?

 

While I too would love to see your novels made into movies, I have no idea who could play Gabriel and if the screen could bring the characters to life as vividly as they are in the books.  Some things are simply better in print and our own imaginations...

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Daniel-Silva
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31

Alex99

Many thanks for your email and so pleased you enjoy the books. I often refer to the Gabriel Allon books, as The Accidental Series. When I wrote the first Gabriel Allon book, The Kill Artist, it was supposed to be a single story. I never imagined an Israeli spy would become one of the most successful and accepted continuing characters. But my publisher and editor convinced me otherwise. I was still skeptical, but the next book The English Assassin proved that they were right and I was wrong! Still, I wasn't sure. When I first envisioned The Confessor, it was not going to be a Gabriel book. Then somewhere during the process, I came to my senses. And I truly am grateful for the huge following Gabriel and his team have earned around the world. Readers tell me the characters stay fresh because they evolve over time.

As for the other books I have written, you are not alone. Every day we get emails asking for another Michael Osbourne book. And many fans still ask for Alfred Vicary of The Unlikely Spy to return for another WW2 thriller. Let's just say, I am working on it. The reality is I do have a plot in mind and will do my best over the next few years to keep readers of both series happy.

Until then, many thanks for reading and for taking the time to write.

All best wishes,

Daniel

 

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Daniel-Silva
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31

First of all thank you to Barnes and Noble in Dallas for hosting tonight's event and thank those of you who came out! It was huge!

 

 

Frequently Asked Questions:

 

Almost every night on tour, there are several questions I am always asked, so I will try to answer at least one each night on Center Stage.

 

Many of you have asked, what about a movie?

 

The reality is we get pitches from producers every week. But I confess when it comes to Gabriel and his team, I am picky. While I love the movies, and many readers have told me how cinematic the books are, I want to make sure we find the right director, screenwriter and star. So until someone convinces me, I believe Gabriel is best left on the page and in your imagination. That said, it is always wonderful to hear everyone's casting suggestions. I recently became a Facebook convert. I had always been skeptical about social networking sites, but a wonderful fan and reader from Italy, Alessandro Barcellona started a fan page, (if you search Facebook it is the one with the cover of The Defector) and it has been fascinating to hear everyone's suggestions for Gabriel and the other members of his team. Please take a look and join in.

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Hotpen
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31

Can you provide a link to the Facebook page, Dan? I can't find it and I'd love to see it. Have you ever thought about creating a Facebook page for Gabriel? How cool would that be?
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Bethanne
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31

Welcome to Center Stage, Daniel. So glad the B&N event in Dallas was a success! We're all looking forward to hearing your answers and comments this week. 

 

Bethanne 

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Daniel-Silva
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31

First of all a huge thank you! We have just learned that The Defector debuts at #1 on The New York Times bestseller list! It never would have been possible without all of you! So I thank you, and my accidental hero Gabriel thanks you!

For those who asked about how to find the fan site on Facebook, here is a link which I hope works! http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/pages/Daniel-Silva/38728710956?ref=ts  But I warn you my internet skills are limited! If that doesn't work, just search "Daniel Silva" and look for the cover of The Defector. That is the fan site and anyone can join.

I also post on my website which is www.danielsilvabooks.com and about 4 times a year I send out a newsletter. Many people find the website helpful because there are numerous interviews posted there, as well as essays I have written about the books. There is even a dossier of Gabriel Allon which you might enjoy!

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Paul_Hochman
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31

Congratulations on the Times, Daniel!
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Bethanne
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31

Congratulations, Daniel, on this wonderful news. 

 

Could you elaborate a bit more on why Gabriel Allon is an "accidental" hero? Is that because he tries to retire and live out his life quietly, but keeps getting pulled back in to intelligence operations, or is there something else to it as well?

 

Thank you again for your time here this week.

 

Bethanne 

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fordmg
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31


Daniel-Silva wrote:

 

Many of you have asked, what about a movie?

 

The reality is we get pitches from producers every week. But I confess when it comes to Gabriel and his team, I am picky. While I love the movies, and many readers have told me how cinematic the books are, I want to make sure we find the right director, screenwriter and star. So until someone convinces me, I believe Gabriel is best left on the page and in your imagination. That said, it is always wonderful to hear everyone's casting suggestions. I recently became a Facebook convert. I had always been skeptical about social networking sites, but a wonderful fan and reader from Italy, Alessandro Barcellona started a fan page, (if you search Facebook it is the one with the cover of The Defector) and it has been fascinating to hear everyone's suggestions for Gabriel and the other members of his team. Please take a look and join in.


 

Thank you for being picky.  I usually find that I don't like the movie as well as the book, and sometimes the movie spoils the characters if they are way different than I have immagined.  Gabriel is great because he is super hero, and yet not super hero.  He always takes time to recover from his injuries.  That makes him more real.

 

MG

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Daniel-Silva
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31

Sorry for any confusion, I refer to Gabriel as the accidental hero, because of the story I mentioned earlier about it being the accidental series. I never intended for it to be a series, and so the fact that Gabriel has appeared in 9 books now with such an immense fan base, makes him my accidental hero. For those who are interested in the story behind the writing of the Gabriel Allon series, I have posted an essay on my website www.danielsilvabooks.com that might be of interest.

And if you want to join in in the discussion about who should play Gabriel in a movie, please take a look at the lively conversation going on on Facebook.

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KFZuzulo
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31

Love your books and am looking forward to reading The Defector.  One of my favorite complex antagonists was Jean Paul Delaroche.  I've sort of lost track of him.  Is he still alive? And will he make a reappearance any time soon?  --thanks, Kellyann
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Bethanne
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31


KFZuzulo wrote:
Love your books and am looking forward to reading The Defector.  One of my favorite complex antagonists was Jean Paul Delaroche.  I've sort of lost track of him.  Is he still alive? And will he make a reappearance any time soon?  --thanks, Kellyann
Kellyann, thanks for stopping by. I can't wait to hear what Daniel has to say about Delaroche; a great foil, for sure!
Bethanne 

 

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Daniel-Silva
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31

Thank you again to Barnes and Noble for hosting tonight's signing at their store in Bethesda, Maryland and to everyone who came out! It was an amazing crowd! And thank you for all your wonderful messages about The Defector's success. We learned today that in addition to being #1 on The New York Times bestseller list, it is also #1 on The Wall Street Journal list! It would not have been possible without all of you, but a special thank you to my dear friend Joe Scarborough for wearing a tie! (If you need to know more, please watch the video link on my website www.danielsilvabooks.com!)

 

Some of you have asked about how characters were formed and I have to confess there is no simple answer. Most evolve over time. In fact, I often describe the Michael Osbourne series and the character of Delaroche as a charcoal sketch for the Gabriel Allon series. Recently, I wrote a short essay about this which I am including below and hope it answers some of your questions. If you have not read some of the books, there are a few plot spoilers, but nothing about The Defector. Hope this helps to answer some of your questions.

 

In 2000, after publishing The Marching Season, the second book in the Michael Osbourne series, I decided it was time for a change. We were nearing the end of the Clinton administration, and the president was about to embark on a final, last-ditch effort to bring peace to the Middle East. I had the broad outlines of a story in mind. It was the story of a hard-line Palestinian terrorist who wanted to torpedo the peace process by carrying out a wave of high-profile attacks in Europe and America. And it was the story of an Israeli assassin and intelligence officer who would be given the assignment of stopping him. The Palestinian would be called Tariq al-Hourani. The Israeli, as yet, had no name, and I thought long and hard before giving him one. I wanted it to be biblical, like my own. I finally decided to name him after the archangel Gabriel. It is a beautiful name, and it is filled with much religious and historical symbolism. Gabriel is the mightiest of God’s angels and His most important messenger. He is the prince of fire and the guardian of Israel. And, perhaps most important, Gabriel is the angel of revenge. I decided that Gabriel’s last name should short, simple, and somewhat neutral: Allon. In Hebrew, it means “oak tree.” I liked the image it conveyed, for Gabriel Allon was definitely solid as an oak.

Unlike the archangel Gabriel, who is said to reside at the right hand of God, Gabriel Allon the man was born in a small, dusty agricultural town in the Jezreel Valley of Israel. His parents were German Holocaust survivors and spoke German at home. As a result, young Gabriel’s first language was German rather than Hebrew, and German remains the language of his dreams to this day. We know little about Gabriel’s father, other than the fact that he was killed during the Six-Day War in 1967. His mother, Irene, was the far more dominant force in his life. The daughter of Viktor Frankel, a well-known German expressionist painter who was murdered at Auschwitz in 1942, she was one of the most important painters in the young State of Israel. Gabriel inherited his mother’s artistic talent and, after completing his mandatory service in the Israeli army, entered the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design in Jerusalem, Israel’s national school of art. He was studying there in September 1972, when Palestinian terrorists kidnapped and murdered eleven Israeli athletes and coaches at the Olympic Games in Munich, Germany. A week after the massacre, a man came to Bezalel to see Gabriel. He was a small, wiry figure with hands that looked as though they had been borrowed from someone twice his size and teeth that looked like a steel trap. His name was Ari Shamron, and he was about to forever change the course of young Gabriel’s life.

Ari Shamron was a legendary operative in the Israeli secret service whose exploits included the 1960 capture of Adolf Eichmann, the architect of the Final Solution. On that day in September 1972, he had just been given a new assignment by Prime Minister Golda Meir: to hunt down and kill the Black September terrorists responsible for the massacre in Munich, many of whom were living openly in Europe. To carry out that task, he needed a young man who could move around the continent without attracting unwanted attention. He needed a young man who could speak a European language and who had the emotional coldness necessary to kill many men at close quarters. He chose the child of Holocaust survivors who still spoke German in his dreams. After undergoing a month of intense training, Gabriel was sent to Rome, where he killed a man named Wadal Abdel Zwaiter, Black September’s chief of operations in Italy. Over the next three years, Gabriel would kill five more terrorists, all at close range with a .22 caliber Beretta.

In 1975, when returned to Israel at the end of the mission, his appearance had changed dramatically. He looked much older than his twenty-five years and his hair had gone to gray at his temples—“smudges of ash on the prince of fire,” as Shamron liked to say. Haunted by the faces of the men whom he had killed, Gabriel found he could no longer paint. With Shamron’s help, he settled in Venice under an assumed identity and served an apprenticeship with master art restorer Umberto Conti. For the next fifteen years, he lived exclusively in Europe, restoring paintings under the name Mario Delvecchio and carrying out assassinations for the State of Israel. In 1991, at the beginning of the first Gulf War, he was tracking the movements of a terrorist in Vienna when a concealed bomb exploded in his car, killing his young son and grievously wounding his wife, Leah. The terrorist who carried out the attack was named Tariq al-Hourani, the man whom Gabriel would be assigned to kill nine years later.

The story of that assignment is told in The Kill Artist, which was supposed to be the first and only Gabriel Allon novel. I never liked the title. In fact, I loath it to this day. It was forced on me by an editor I otherwise adored because he didn’t like the title I had placed on the manuscript, which was Prince of Fire. Despite the title, the book was an instant New York Times bestseller. When I moved to Putnam in 2001, the legendary publisher Phyllis Grann suggested that I turn Gabriel into a continuing character. I thought it was a terrible idea, and I told her so. I felt there was too much anti-Semitism in the world, and far too much hatred of Israel, to make a continuing Israeli character palatable to a mass audience. She told me I was wrong and ordered me to get to work on the follow-up. It was called The English Assassin, and it sold nearly twice as many copies as The Kill Artist. The next book, The Confessor, sold even more. In fact, each of the novels as sold more than its predecessor. For the record, Phyllis Grann was right, and I was wrong.

I am asked often whether it is necessary to read the novels in order. The answer is no, but it probably doesn’t hurt. For the record, the order of publication is as follows: The Kill Artist, The English Assassin, The Confessor, A Death in Vienna, Prince of Fire, The Messenger, The Secret Servant, and Moscow Rules. The stories follow a familiar pattern fans of the series have come to expect: Gabriel is drawn out of retirement or seclusion, usually by a murder or some other act of violence, and soon finds himself at the center of a fast-paced, swirling international adventure. Several memorable sub-characters appear throughout the series: Eli Lavon, the surveillance artist and Gabriel’s old friend from the Black September operation; Uzi Navot, the chief of the Special Operations directorate who forever toils in Gabriel’s shadow; Julian Isherwood, the London art dealer and volunteer helper of Israeli intelligence who provides legitimate work for Gabriel’s cover; Adrian Carter, the deputy director of the CIA; and, of course, Ari Shamron, the legendary former chief of Israeli intelligence who refuses to allow Gabriel to live in peace.

The series contains two internal trilogies. The first consists of The English Assassin, The Confessor, and A Death in Vienna and explores what I call “the unfinished business of the Holocaust.” The English Assassin deals with Nazi art looting and the actions of Switzerland during the Second World War. The Confessor wrestles with the role of the Roman Catholic Church during the Holocaust and the actions, or lack thereof, of Pope Pius XII. A Death in Vienna tells the story of Gabriel’s quest to bring justice to a Nazi war criminal, a man whom his mother encountered during the Death March from Auschwitz in January 1945. It remains my favorite.

The second internal trilogy consists of Prince of Fire, The Messenger, and The Secret Servant and deals with the question of terrorism in the modern world. Prince of Fire explores the roots of Palestinian terrorism through a story of revenge, The Messenger takes a hard look at the role Saudi Arabia played in creating al-Qaeda and its affiliates, and The Secret Servant surveys the rise of militant Islam in Europe.

Moscow Rules, the eighth book in the series, finds Gabriel on assignment in the New Russia. He has changed much since we first met him. He is a bit older, much wiser, and his cover has been blown many times over. He is a friend of both the American president and the Pope, and moves at the highest levels of Western intelligence in London and Washington. He has returned to Europe and resides now on a secluded estate in Umbria, where he restores paintings in secret for the Vatican Picture Gallery. After many years of dithering, he has finally come to his senses and married Chiara Zolli, a beautiful Venetian Jew whom he first met during the course of The Confessor. Like Gabriel, Chiara works as an undercover operative for Israeli intelligence. She is interested in starting a family. Gabriel, who lost one family to his enemies, is not at all sure he’s capable of having another. The Defector is a sequel to Moscow Rules.

As for his first wife, Leah, she resides now in a psychiatric hospital on Mount Herzl in Jerusalem, locked in a prison of memory. From her favorite spot in the hospital’s garden, she can see across Jerusalem to the spot on the Mount of Olives, where her only son is buried. Gabriel’s encounters with Leah are some of the most touching and memorable scenes in the series. They are also highly symbolic. Scarred by fire, Leah resembles a canvas that has suffered significant paint losses. She is the one thing Gabriel cannot restore. She is the price he has paid for a life spent battling the forces of evil—a life that began one day in September 1972, when a man named Ari Shamron came to the Bezalel Academy of Fine Art and Design and asked a gifted young painter to lay down his brushes and pick up a gun instead.

 

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Daniel-Silva
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Re: Daniel Silva, July 27-31

For those who like Jean Paul Delaroche, stay tuned!