A Death in Vienna is the fourth book in the Gabriel Allon series. A bombing in Vienna leads to information about the presence of a World War II Nazi in Austria. The wartime story of Gabriel's mother is told.
The Man from Café Central
Eli Lavon operates an office called Wartime Claims and Inquiries in Vienna, Austria. Eli had been an Ayin for the Office. As he is leaving Wartime Claims and Inquiries, he sees a man who he believes has been following him. Almost immediately, there is an explosion in his office that propels him through a door and kills his two female assistants.
Mario Delvecchio is restoring a Bellini altarpiece. His boss, Francesco Tiepolo, stops by to compliment his work. When his work is through for the day, he visits Chiara Zolli at the bookstore where she is working. Chiara tells him that Ari Shamron is looking for him because of a bombing in Vienna. Shamron provides Gabriel with documentation that identifies him as Gideon Argov, a representative of the Wartime Claims and Inquiries office in Jerusalem and tells him to go to Vienna to investigate the attack. Gabriel agrees.
Gabriel flies to Vienna and visits an unconscious Eli in the hospital. A nurse tells him to talk to Eli because Eli might hear him. Afterward, Max Klein approaches Gabriel and says that what happened is his fault. Gabriel goes to Max Klein's apartment where Klein explains that he had been imprisoned at Auschwitz where he had witnessed an SS officer kill fifteen people one day because they could not identify a piece of music. Max tells Gabriel he saw the same man in Vienna, being addressed as Herr Vogel, within the past two months and that he had reported that fact to Eli Lavon. Someone who has been recording the conversation photographs Gabriel as he leaves the apartment building.
Gabriel learns that Ludwig Vogel was not in the SS in World War II but was in the German army and that he was too young to have been the officer Klein described. Vogel is, however, a wealthy man who has almost single-handedly financed the campaign of the candidate of the Austrian National Party who will almost certainly be the next chancellor of Austria. Gabriel acquires copies of secret documents from the Austrian state archives. He is photographed covertly.
Gabriel Allon is recognized from when he was interrogated immediately after the bombing in which Leah Allon was injured. Erich Radek tells an official to deal with the problem of Gabriel and hangs up when asked about Max Klein.
Gabriel Allon visits the coffeehouse where Max Klein saw the man he described as Erich Radek. Ludwig Vogel enters the coffeehouse and calmly lets Gabriel know that he knows who Gabriel is. An unidentified American is also at the coffeehouse; he notifies Carter at CIA headquarters. Gabriel goes to the hospital and talks to the unconscious Eli. Back in his hotel room, Gabriel draws three pictures of Vogel: Current, fifty years younger and younger in an SS uniform. The last looks familiar. He destroys all the pictures. The next morning, Gabriel travels to Vogel's country chalet, where he finds a watch engraved "To Erich in adoration, Monica," a ring engraved "1005, well done, Heinrich" and a photograph of a man, a woman and a teenaged boy who looks vaguely familiar. He keeps all three. He encounters and knocks out a man examining his car; the man proves to be a police officer.
The next morning, Gabriel passes all of the items he has collected to Ephraim Ben-Avraham from the Office and goes in search of Max Klein, whom he finds dead in his apartment. He returns to his hotel room, where he is told has entered Austria in violation of their agreement and orders him to be on the afternoon flight to Israel.
The Hall of Names
Back in Israel, Ari Shamron meets Gabriel at Ben-Gurion Airport. Ari tells Gabriel that the foreign minister is upset with both Gabriel and Ari. Lev Ahroni, the director of the Office, is also angry. Gabriel reminds Shamron that Max Klein was convinced that he had seen Vogel at Auschwitz; he also tells Shamron that their government needs to get Eli Lavon out of Vienna. Shamron sends Gabriel to review material at the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem. Gabriel meets with a curator who tells him he may have found Erich Radek.
In Vienna, Konrad Becker visits Ludwig Vogel to discuss the status of his account in Becker's Swiss bank. As a part of the discussion, Becker asks Vogel to repeat the number and password of the account. Later, Becker meets with the American, who retrieves a recording of Vogel reciting the numbers.
At Yad Vashem, Gabriel learns about Erich Radek's rise to power within the SS and how much he had contributed to the murder of Jews as part of the "final solution." At the end of World War II, Radek was captured and sent to a prisoner of war camp operated by the United States. He managed to escape and disappeared, with the assistance or ODESSA or some other escape network, including the one operated by the Vatican. Bishop Aloïs Hudal was one Church official who was helpful to Nazis trying to escape Europe. Looking at a photograph of Radek, Gabriel realizes where he has seen the face before.
Gabriel visits Tziona Levin, the closest thing he had to a sibling. After Gabriel and Tziona share a meal, he looks through his mother's paintings and finds the one she painted of Erich Radek. Gabriel takes the painting back to Yad Vashem and shows it to Rivlin. Rivlin asks some questions and retrieves Irtene Allon's testimony about her suffering under the Nazis. Gabriel reads The Testimony of Irene Allon, March 19, 1957.
Gabriel dines with Ari and Gilah Shamron for the Sabbath. After the meal, Shamron tells Gabriel that he had read his mother's testimony as part of Gabriel's selection process. They decide to use Gabriel's close relationship to Pope Paul VII to access Bishop Hudel's papers. First, Ari visits the American embassy where he is told that the CIA was unable to find any reference to Ludwig Vogel in its files. Ari tells Gabriel that the statement is a lie.
In Rome, Gabriel meets with Luigi Donati; he tells Donati what the Office suspects about Erich Radek and that he needs access to Hudel's. Donati agrees and they visit Bishop Theodor Drexler, who reluctantly grants access to the files. Within those files was a record that Erich Radek had been granted documentation under the name Otto Krebs and left Rome for Syria.
Gabriel and Chiara fly to Buenos Aires and Gabriel meets with Alfonso Ramirez while Chiara watches his back. Gabriel and Alfonso visit an old records center and find evidence that Otto Krebs entered Argentina. Alfonso makes some telephone calls and learns that Krebs died in 1982 while living in Bariloche, Argentina.
Gabriel and Chiara arrive in Bariloche, where Gabriel learns that Otto Krebs actually died in Puerto Blest, Argentina. He and Chiara visit the grave and find that the headstone features a photograph of Krebs, who is definitely not Erich Radek. They are approached by a gunman, who stops when he sees two other figures. The two turn out to be special operators the the United States; they escort Gabriel and Chiara out of the area.
The River of Ashes
The two special operators take Gabriel and Chiara across the border into Chile, where they are flown to the United States. Upon arriving at The Plains in Virginia, Gabriel and Chiara are met by Adrian Carter of the CIA and Ari Shamron. After some inter-agency posturing, Carter reveals that the answer Gabriel is seeking lies in the history of the Gehlen Organization and that, rather than escaping from his confinement as a prisoner of war, Radek was released to Reinhard Gehlen, who was forming an organization to contest the advances of the Soviet Union in the post-World War II world. Erich Radek had agents and assets in counties that fell under Soviet influence. The CIA sent an unidentified German to Rome posing as Radek to create a false trail explaining his disappearance. Radek married during the war. His wife Monica gave birth to a son named Peter; she entered into an arranged marriage with an agent named Metzler. Carter reveals the existence of the secret Erich Radek's account at Becker & Puhl Bank. The Israelis convince Carter to help with the kidnap/arrest of Radek and the transfer of the funds in his secret bank account to Israel.
On arriving in Jerusalem, Ari, Gabriel and Chiara meet with the Prime Minister; Lev Ahroni also attends. At Ari's urging, Gabriel tells the prime minister the story of the investigation and his plan for bringing Erich Radek to Israel. Lev disagrees for all the bureaucratic reasons he is famous for within the Office. The prime minister agrees with Ari and Gabriel and tells them to preceed; he tells Lev to provide all the support they need and warns Lev that if the mission fails he will not be safe from censure because he voted against proceeding. Afterward, the prime minister tells Ari privately that if Radek will not come willingly to Israel to ensure that he dies. The prime minister refers to Gabriel as the "Prince of Fire."
Ludwig Vogel orders that security be brought to the highest possible level.
"Heller Enterprises" and "Systech Wireless" met at the Dolder Grand Hotel in Zurich for merger talks. Somerset telephoned Konrad Becker and summoned him to the hotel, where he was informed that it was time to act out his role regarding the secret account controlled by Erich Radek and was introduced to his "lawyer," Oskar Lange.
An operations center for the arrest of Radek is established in Munich, Germany. Adrian Carter arrives and tells Ari and Gabriel that the director of the CIA wants to know more details about the operation, which the Israelis reluctantly provide. Konrad Becker calls Ludwig Vogel to tell him that there are some final documents to be signed and that he will be bringing his lawyer, Oskar Lange, with him; they set an appointment for the coming Friday evening. Gabriel and Chiara depart by van for Austria. Uzi Navot and Konrad Becker fly to Vienna; they arrive at Ludwig Vogel's residence and are searched by a bodyguard. While they are talking with Vogel, an imposter calls to tell Vogel that there is a threat to his security and that the police are en route to take him to a safe place. The operation falters when the "police car," actually driven by Oded arrives and Uzi Navot and the others refuse to allow Halder to accompany Vogel. Uzi knocks out Halder and The Israelis force Vogel into the car and convince him to recite his real name, Erich Radek. The police car heads north toward a rendezvous with a van driven by Chiara Zolli. The Israelis transfer Radek to the van driven by Chiara after tranquilizing him. Chiara crosses into the Czech Republic and picks up Gabriel. After the van crosses into Poland, Gabriel wakes up Radek.
The Prisoner of Abu Kabir
Radek is imprisoned without trial in Jaffa and works to clarify the records at Yad Vashem of Nazi actions in World War II. Israel announces his arrest; the announcement fades against other current events and Lev Ahroni tries to label the entire operation as "Shamron's Folly," but finds that he has lost his credibility within the Office. Gabriel meets with Radek one more time at Radek's request.
Gabriel returns to his restoration work in Venice, but leaves one more time. The Office has tracked down the Austrian assassin. The agency delivers a bomb to him at his shop. Chiara calls to tell him she is a friend of several of his victims and remotely detonates the bomb. Gabriel tells her that when we heard the bomb explode, he thought only of her.
- Headlines in the synopsis are from the book.