The Messenger is the sixth book in the Gabriel Allon series. An attack is made on the Vatican, Ari Shamron is injured in an attempted assassination, and Gabriel mounts an operation to punish those responsible. The size of Gabriel Allon's team increases and, for the first time, includes Sarah Bancroft.

Synopsis Edit

The Door of Death Edit

In October, a recruiter and talent spotter for al-Qaeda running from an agent of the Office in London steps in front of a delivery truck. His shadow recovers the dead man's briefcase and laptop computer. When the computer is analyzed at King Saul Boulevard the next morning, it is found to contain personnel information, accounts and surveillance photos of planned operations. The collection includes images of the Pope and the public areas of Vatican City. Monsignor Luigi Donati, the Pope's private secretary, flies to Israel to meet with Gabriel. The next morning, Gabriel shows the pictures to Donati. When Donati points out that the pictures were all taken during the Pope's general audience held each Wednesday and Gabriel responds that the current day is Tuesday, Donati decides to return to Rome immediately taking Gabriel with him. In Rome, Gabriel meets with the Pope and with both Italian and Vatican security officers, including Karl Brunner.

On Wednesday morning, Gabriel identifies a Muslim visitor to the Vatican as a potential threat. Gabriel finds the visitor's office to be cleared out except for declaration of war against the Catholic Church by the Brotherhood of Allah. Gabriel runs for the audience location at St. Peter's Basilica, but arrives too late. Three suicide bombers set off their bombs. They are followed by attacks by three men armed with RPG-7s which are aimed at the basilica. Pope Paul VII is severely injured. Meanwhile, the visitor has slipped away from the Vatican to an apartment in Rome from which he expects to travel to Saudi Arabia; when he opens the apartment door, an explosion kills him. Gabriel is invited to meet with Pope Paul VII, who suggests that the search for the people who attacked the Vatican and him will soon be the responsibility of Gabriel and his associates. As they part, the Pope tells Gabriel that Francesco Tiepolo and Chiara both want to see him before he leaves Italy. Gabriel goes to Venice to see Chiara. They make love and he professes his love for her.

Dr. Gachet's Daughter Edit

Marguerite Gachet at the Piano

Marguerite Gachet at the Piano

Returning to Jerusalem, Gabriel learns from Ari Shamron that the visitor to the vatican is linked to the Saudis. His activities were planned by a Saudi operative named Ahmed bin Shafiq and financed by a Saudi billionaire. Ari expresses his reluctance at having to share intelligence with other nations, but tells Gabriel to fly to Washington the next morning to brief the Americans. Ari leaves in his armored vehicle with his bodyguards. A few minutes later, Gabriel hears an explosion band is unable to contact Ari.

Gabriel finds Gilah Shamron in Ari's room at a hospital. Gilah is holding Ari's leather jacket with the mysterious tear. As Gabriel is leaving to see the prime minister, Gilah tells him that Ari accidentally tore the jacket when he heard about Leah and Dani and he would never allow Gilah to repair the damage. She gives the jacket to Gabriel. Gabriel meets with the prime minister and the director of the Office. The prime minister tells him that his mission is to track down and punish the people who attacked Ari Shamron. Amos Sharret tells Gabriel that his meeting with Adrian Carter has been moved from Washington to London.

Marguerite Gachet in the Garden

Marguerite Gachet in the Garden

Gabriel discusses Ahmed bin Shafiq with Adrian Carter. Carter identifies Abdul Aziz al-Bakari as a banker for the bin Shafiq's terrorist network. Gabriel notes that al-Bakari is an art collector. Carter tells Gabriel that the President of the United States wants a favor; he wants an agent inserted into the house of al-Bakari and, if the opportunity presents itself, for Ahmed bin Shafiq to be killed. Gabriel says he will recommend that the Office grant the favor. Gabriel assembles his team. Ari objects to the Office doing Carter's work for him, but acquiesces. Ari tells Gabriel Chiara is waiting for him at home.
Undergrowth with Two Figures

Undergrowth with Two Figures

Gabriel visits Julian Isherwood and tells him he needs to speak with the owner of Marguerite Gachet at Her Dressing Table, an uncatalogued painting by Vincent van Gogh, that Julian once described. Gabriel convinces Julian that he can retire out of danger after the operation is finished. Julian gives Gabriel the address of the Hannah Weinberg in Paris, France and Gabriel convinces Hannah to rent the painting to the Office. Gabriel returns to Israel and is called to meet with Adrian Carter in the United States. He and Carter work together to recruit Sarah Bancroft, an art curator, to penetrate Abdul Aziz al-Bakari's organization to locate Ahmed bin Shafiq. Sarah goes to work for Julian. When Sarah asks what will happen to bin Shafiq, Gabriel tells her that he will be killed.

Julian Isherwood lunches with al-Bakari's art director and offers the painting to al-Bakari. Gabriel and his associates notice surveillance on Julian's gallery. Abdul Aziz al-Bakari descends on Isherwood Fine Arts with an entourage of sixteen. He examines Marguerite Gachet, displays some acumen about Van Gogh and, agrees to buy the painting. Gabriel arranges for proof of art director's violation his exclusive contract with al-Bakari to be sent to al-Bakari, who fires Malone and invites Sarah to join him and his extended family on his yacht. Gabriel arranges with Adrian Carter to use a boat available from the CIA to monitor al-Bakari's vessel; the Israeli navy provides the crew.

The Night Journey Edit

Sarah flies from London to The Bahamas with an escort. On al-Bakari's yacht, all of her electronic and electrical items are confiscated and she is introduced to the extended family, including al-Bakari's Swiss Banker, who tells Sarah that when she is offered a job to ask for whatever she wants and al-Bakari will pay it. Gabriel and his team watch the Alexandra from their clandestine boat.

Sarah settles into a routine on the yacht, including calling Isherwood Fine Arts each day and receiving messages from Chiara, who is posing as a secretary. After several days, Abdul Aziz al-Bakari offers Sarah a job as head of his art department. She makes extreme demands, which al-Bakari accepts and she is hired. In London, Julian Isherwood plays the role of being upset that Sarah has left his employ. Gabriel is pensive because now that he has inserted Sarah into al-Bakari's network, he knows that he has to be able to get her out.

The yacht arrives at Gustavia, Saint Barthélemy and Sarah is surprised when al-Bakari's daughter, Nadia al-Bakari, invites her to spend a day on the beach. The daughter asks seemingly innocent questions about Sarah's background. Sarah goes swimming near the beach and is approached by Yaakov, who asks about her safety and whether she has seen Ahmed bin Shafiq. He then tells her to swim away and tell anyone who asks that he was flirting with her. When Sarah returns to the beach, she is told not to speak with any stranger, especially Jews. That evening, al-Bakari commandeers a restaurant for dinner. En route, they stop at a villa for drinks with a couple and Sarah thinks she recognizes bin-Shafiq, who is posing as a legitimate business associate of al-Bakari. When asked why she is staring at bin Shafiq, Sarah responds that she is looking at al-Bakari's trainer. She pulls her hair off her neck in a signal, as agreed with Gabriel.

The next morning, Sarah pins her hair up and goes for a run. While running she sees members of the team looking after her. After she and the trainer eat breakfast ashore, Sarah contrives to leave a note about about bin-Shafiq in the store; Gabriel recovers the note. Gabriel's team acquires a recording of bin Shafiq's voice. King Saul Boulevard verifies bin-Shafiq's identity.

Gabriel attempts to extract Sarah Bancroft from her position, but al-Bakari becomes suspicious and secretly moves Sarah to Switzerland. She is subjected to interrogation and breaks, but the Office agents catch up, kill the men holding her and free her.

Gabriel returns to the Vatican during a meeting between Pope Paul VII and the President of the United States. A Swiss Guard attempts to kill the Pope; Gabriel kills Müller but not before Müller shoots Donati, who places his body to shield the Pope.

The Witness Edit

Gabriel agrees to testify before a closed session of a US Senate committee. He visits Sarah who tells him that she told her interrogator everything; Gabriel tells her that the fault is his because his team was obviously spotted by al-Bakari's security. Back in Israel, Gabriel tells Leah about his love for Chiara. Gabriel and others break into al-Bakari's Paris mansion and recover the Van Gogh painting, which Gabriel returns to Hannah Weinberg. Gabriel and Eli kill Bin Shafiq with a bomb in Cairo. Gabriel kills Abdul Aziz al-Bakari and two of his bodyguards in Cannes while Uzi Navot watches; Nadia al-Bakari screams for revenge.

Commentary Edit

  • Headlines in the synopsis are from the book.