Gabriel Allon, the star of Daniel Silva’s thrillers, is called out of retirement once again to embark on another Israeli counter-terrorist mission.

The Fallen Angel, just out in paperback, is the 12th Gabriel Allon spy novel and readers of the series won’t be disappointed. As in the previous books, Allon is busy in Europe restoring a famous piece of art. This time he’s at the Vatican, working on one of Caravaggio’s greatest masterpieces.  But he is called away by a friend when the body of a beautiful woman is found on the floor of St. Peter’s Basilica. While the police suspect suicide, Allon immediately sees that the woman has been murdered.

The investigation into the woman’s death is just the first step on a mission that reunites Allon with his former team members in the Israeli intelligence agency referred to only as the Office. Back at headquarters on King Saul Boulevard in Tel Aviv, Allon begins planning an operation against a Swiss antiquities dealer who is secretly funding Hezbollah terrorists.

One thing keeps leading to another in this fast-paced thriller. An Iranian diplomat stationed in Berlin must be captured in order to learn where Hezbollah is planning to attack. The suicide bombers are discovered just in time, but could their strike just have been a decoy?

The action then comes close to home as Allon accompanies the leader of the Catholic world on a papal visit to Israel. The pope speaks out against Palestinian intransigence in recent peace talks and opens a new page in Vatican-Israeli relations. Could the pope be the target of a sinister plot to plunge the world into a conflict of apocalyptic proportions?

Gabriel Allon is no James Bond because is far more believable and comes across as a human being, with a real life outside the world of espionage. To justify his actions when he pulls the trigger, Allon stresses that he is not a murderer, but acting to prevent murders. In many cases, Allon and his teammates debate whether the actions they take against their enemies are really suitable. Allon has a past, and the book frequently mentions the plots and characters that appeared in the previous books, but you don’t have to read all the books to fall under the spell of this one.

The Fallen Angel is definitely a page-turner and for many it will come across as the best of the series. Will Allon ever really retire and come home to Israel to live? It’s not happening just yet. Daniel Silva‘s newest book, The English Girl, is being published later this month.