The Confessor opens with the murder of Jewish historian and writer Benjamin Stern in his Munich apartment. The killer covers Benjamin’s walls with Nazi symbols but, before the coup de grâce, absolves him of his sins with a Latin prayer. Suspecting that the murder is more than the work of a neo-Nazi, the police call in Mario Delvecchio—an art restorer who is really Gabriel Allon, an operative who once worked for Israel’s secret intelligence agency.
Gabriel learns that his friend Benjamin was writing a book that may have led to his murder. His quest to find Benjamin’s assassin takes him from Venice’s Jewish ghetto to Vienna to London to a convent on the shores of Italy’s Lake Garda to the recesses of the Vatican.
There, the real-life pontiff, John Paul II, has been replaced by a new pope who wants to open the Vatican’s Secret Archives to bare the truth of the Church’s role in the Holocaust. He believes it’s vital for the Church to resolve the centuries of anti-Semitism it fostered and to move on to a unity between Catholics and Jews.
But a conservative cabal within the Church is determined to stop the new “caretaker” pope as well as Gabriel, whose investigation is bringing him closer to the truth about an agreement between the Church and the Nazis that allowed Hitler’s plans to eliminate Europe’s Jews.
The Confessor is carefully researched, and the historical information doesn’t slow the slam-bang pace. It’s one of those rare books that sweep you into forgetting to eat or sleep. Daniel Silva has now indisputably joined the ranks of Graham Greene and John Le Carré.