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Unformatted text preview: Dedication
For the fifty-four journalists who were killed worldwide in 2018. And, as always, for my wife, Jamie, and my
children, Nicholas and Lily. Epigraph
What’s done cannot be undone.
—Macbeth (1606), act 5, scene 1 Contents Cover
Map of Europe
Part One: Abduction
2: New York
3: New York
4: New York
5: Ashtara, Azerbaijan
6: Tel Aviv
7: Tel Aviv–Netanya
9: Nejd, Saudi Arabia
10: Nejd, Saudi Arabia
11: Nejd, Saudi Arabia
Part Two: Abdication
23: Kensington, London
24: Mayfair, London
25: Kensington, London
26: Haute-Savoie, France
27: Haute-Savoie, France
29: Areatza, Spain
31: Tel Aviv–Paris
33: Mazamet, France
34: Carcassonne, France
35: Département du Tarn, France Part Three: Absolution
36: Southwest France–Jerusalem
37: Tel Aviv
38: Eilat, Israel
41: New York–Berlin
46: Gulf of Aqaba
47: Gulf of Aqaba
48: Notting Hill, London
49: Vauxhall Cross, London
50: Harrow, London
51: Epping Forest, Essex
53: The Kremlin
Part Four: Assassination
55: Frinton-on-Sea, Essex
56: 10 Downing Street
57: Ouddorp, the Netherlands
58: Heathrow Airport, London
59: 10 Downing Street
60: Walton-on-the-Naze, Essex
61: Notting Hill, London
62: Eaton Square, Belgravia
63: Eaton Square, Belgravia
64: Eaton Square, Belgravia
65: Eaton Square, Belgravia
66: Eaton Square, Belgravia
67: 10 Downing Street
68: London City Airport
69: Frinton-on-Sea, Essex
70: Frinton-on-Sea, Essex
71: Essex–London City Airport
72: London City Airport
73: The North Sea
76: 10 Downing Street
77: Ouddorp, The Netherlands
78: Ouddorp, the Netherlands
79: Renesse, the Netherlands
Part Five: Vengeance
81: Langley–New York
Author’s Note Acknowledgments
About the Author
Also by Daniel Silva
About the Publisher Map of Europe Foreword In August 2018, I commenced work on a novel about a crusading young Arab prince who wanted to modernize his
religiously intolerant country and bring sweeping change to the Middle East and the broader Islamic world. I set
aside that manuscript two months later, however, when the model for that character, Mohammed bin Salman of
Saudi Arabia, was implicated in the brutal murder of Jamal Khashoggi, a Saudi dissident and columnist for the
Washington Post. Elements of The New Girl are quite obviously inspired by events surrounding Khashoggi’s death.
The rest occur only in the imaginary world inhabited by Gabriel Allon, his associates, and his enemies. Part One Abduction 1 Geneva
It was Beatrice Kenton who first questioned the identity of the new girl. She did so in the staff room, at a quarter
past three, on a Friday in late November. The mood was festive and faintly rebellious, as was the case most Friday
afternoons. It is a truism that no profession welcomes the end of the workweek with more anticipation than teachers
—even teachers at elite institutions such as the International School of Geneva. The chatter was of plans for the
weekend. Beatrice abstained, for she had none, a fact she did not wish to share with her colleagues. She was fiftytwo, unmarried, and with no family to speak of other than a rich old aunt who granted her refuge each summer at her
estate in Norfolk. Her weekend routine consisted of a trip to the Migros and a walk along the lakeshore for the sake
of her waistline, which, like the universe, was ever expanding. First period Monday was an oasis in an otherwise
Empty Quarter of solitude.
Founded by a long-dead organization of multilateralism, Geneva International catered to the children of the city’s
diplomatic community. The middle school, where Beatrice taught reading and composition, educated students from
more than a hundred different countries. The faculty was a similarly diverse lot. The head of personnel went to great
effort to promote employee bonding—cocktail parties, potluck dinners, nature outings—but in the staff room the old
tribalism tended to reassert itself. Germans kept with other Germans, French with French, Spanish with Spanish. On
that Friday afternoon, Miss Kenton was the only British subject present other than Cecelia Halifax from the history
department. Cecelia had wild black hair and predictable politics, which she insisted on sharing with Miss Kenton at
every opportunity. Cecelia also divulged to Miss Kenton details of the torrid sexual affair she was having with Kurt
Schröder, the Birkenstocked math genius from Hamburg who had given up a lucrative engineering career to teach
multiplication and division to eleven-year-olds.
The staff room was on the ground floor of the eighteenth-century château that served as the administration
building. Its leaded windows gazed across the forecourt, where presently Geneva International’s privileged young
students were clambering into the backs of German-made luxury sedans with diplomatic license plates. Loquacious
Cecelia Halifax had planted herself next to Beatrice. She was prattling on about a scandal in London, something
involving MI6 and a Russian spy. Beatrice was scarcely listening. She was watching the new girl.
As usual, she was at the hindmost end of the daily exodus, a wispy child of twelve, already beautiful, with liquid
brown eyes and hair the color of a raven’s wing. Much to Beatrice’s dismay, the school had no uniform, only a dress
code, which several of the more freethinking students flouted with no official sanction. But not the new girl. She
was covered from head to toe in expensive wool and plaid, the sort of stuff one saw at the Burberry boutique in
Harrods. She carried a leather book bag rather than a nylon backpack. Her patent leather ballet slippers were glossy
and bright. She was proper, the new girl, modest. But there was something else about her, thought Beatrice. She was
cut from different cloth. She was regal. Yes, that was the word. Regal . . .
She had arrived two weeks into the autumn term—not ideal but not unheard of at an institution like Geneva
International, where the parent body came and went like the waters of the Rhône. David Millar, the headmaster, had
crammed her into Beatrice’s third period, which was already two pupils on the heavy side. The copy of the
admissions file he gave her was gossamer, even by the school’s standards. It stated that the new girl’s name was
Jihan Tantawi, that she was of Egyptian nationality, and that her father was a businessman rather than a diplomat.
Her academic record was unexceptional. She was deemed bright but in no way gifted. “A bird ready to take flight,”
wrote David in a sanguine margin note. Indeed, the only noteworthy aspect of the file was the paragraph reserved for
the student’s “special needs.” It seemed privacy was of grave concern to the Tantawi family. Security, wrote David,
was a high priority.
Hence the presence in the courtyard that afternoon—and every afternoon, for that matter—of Lucien Villard, the
school’s capable head of security. Lucien was a French import, a veteran of the Service de la Protection, the National Police unit responsible for safeguarding visiting foreign dignitaries and senior French officials. His final
posting had been at the Élysée Palace, where he had served on the personal detail of the president of the Republic.
David Millar used Lucien’s impressive résumé as proof of the school’s commitment to safety. Jihan Tantawi was
not the only student with security concerns.
But no one arrived and departed Geneva International quite like the new girl. The black Mercedes limousine into
which she slipped was fit for a head of state or potentate. Beatrice was no expert when it came to automobiles, but it
looked to her as though the chassis was armor plated and the windows were bulletproof. Behind it was a second
vehicle, a Range Rover, containing four unsmiling brutes in dark jackets.
“Who do you suppose she is?” wondered Beatrice as she watched the two vehicles turn into the street.
Cecelia Halifax was bewildered. “The Russian spy?”
“The new girl,” drawled Beatrice. Then she added dubiously, “Jihan.”
“They say her father owns half of Cairo.”
“Who says that?”
“Veronica.” Veronica Alvarez was a hot-tempered Spaniard from the art department and one of the least reliable
sources of gossip on the faculty, second only to Cecelia herself. “She says the mother is related to the Egyptian
president. His niece. Or maybe his cousin.”
Beatrice watched Lucien Villard crossing the forecourt. “Do you know what I think?”
“I think someone is lying.” And so it came to pass that Beatrice Kenton, a battle-scarred veteran of several lesser British public schools who
had come to Geneva looking for romance and adventure and found neither, undertook a wholly private inquiry to
determine the true identity of the new girl. She began by entering the name JIHAN TANTAWI in the little white box of
her Internet browser’s default search engine. Several thousand results appeared on her screen, none corresponding to
the beautiful twelve-year-old girl who came through her classroom door at the beginning of each third period, never
so much as a minute late.
Next Beatrice searched the various social media sites but again found no trace of her student. It seemed the new
girl was the only twelve-year-old on God’s green earth who did not lead a parallel life in cyberspace. Beatrice found
this commendable, for she had witnessed firsthand the destructive emotional and developmental consequences of
incessant texting, tweeting, and sharing of photographs. Regrettably, such behavior was not limited to children.
Cecelia Halifax could scarcely go to the loo without posting an airbrushed photo of herself on Instagram.
The father, one Adnan Tantawi, was similarly anonymous in the cyber realm. Beatrice found a few references to a
Tantawi Construction and a Tantawi Holdings and a Tantawi Development but nothing at all about the man himself.
Jihan’s admissions file listed a chic address on the route de Lausanne. Beatrice walked by it on a Saturday afternoon.
It was a few doors down from the home of the famous Swiss industrialist Martin Landesmann. Like all properties on
that part of Lake Geneva, it was surrounded by high walls and watched over by security cameras. Beatrice peered
through the bars of the gate and glimpsed a manicured green lawn stretching toward the portico of a magnificent
Italianate villa. At once, a man came pounding toward her down the drive, one of the brutes from the Range Rover,
no doubt. He made no effort to conceal the fact he had a gun beneath his jacket.
“Propriété privée!” he shouted in heavily accented French.
“Excusez-moi,” murmured Beatrice, and walked quickly away.
The next phase of her inquiry commenced the following Monday morning, when she embarked on three days of
close observation of her mysterious new student. She noted that Jihan, when called upon in class, was sometimes
slow in responding. She noted, too, that Jihan had formed no friendships since her arrival at the school, and had
made no attempt to do so. Beatrice also established, while purporting to lavish praise on a lackluster essay, that
Jihan had only a passing familiarity with Egypt. She knew that Cairo was a large city and that a river ran through it,
but little else. Her father, she said, was very rich. He built high-rise apartment houses and office towers. Because he
was a friend of the Egyptian president, the Muslim Brotherhood didn’t like him, which was why they were living in
“Sounds perfectly reasonable to me,” said Cecelia.
“It sounds,” answered Beatrice, “like something someone made up. I doubt she’s ever set foot in Cairo. In fact,
I’m not sure she’s even Egyptian.”
Beatrice next focused her attention on the mother. She viewed her mainly through the tinted, bulletproof windows
of the limousine, or on those rare occasions when she alighted from the car’s backseat to greet Jihan in the
courtyard. She was fairer complected than Jihan and lighter haired—attractive, thought Beatrice, but not quite in Jihan’s league. Indeed, Beatrice was hard-pressed to find any familial resemblance whatsoever. There was a
conspicuous coldness in their physical relationship. Not once did she witness a kiss or warm embrace. She also
detected a distinct imbalance of power. It was Jihan, not the mother, who held the upper hand.
As November turned to December, and the winter break loomed, Beatrice conspired to arrange a meeting with the
aloof mother of her mysterious pupil. The pretext was Jihan’s performance on an English spelling and vocabulary
test—the bottom third of the class but much better than young Callahan, the son of an American foreign service
officer and, purportedly, a native speaker of the language. Beatrice drafted an e-mail requesting a consultation at
Mrs. Tantawi’s convenience and dispatched it to the address she found in the admissions file. When several days
passed with no reply, she sent it again. At which point she received a mild rebuke from David Millar, the
headmaster. It seemed Mrs. Tantawi wished to have no direct contact with Jihan’s teachers. Beatrice was to state her
concerns in an e-mail to David, and David would address the matter with Mrs. Tantawi. Beatrice suspected he was
aware of Jihan’s real identity, but she knew better than to raise the subject, even obliquely. It was easier to pry
secrets from a Swiss banker than Geneva International’s discreet headmaster.
Which left only Lucien Villard, the school’s French-born head of security. Beatrice called on him on a Friday
afternoon during her free period. His office was in the basement of the château, next door to the broom closet
occupied by the shifty little Russian who made the computers work. Lucien was lean and sturdy and more youthfullooking than his forty-eight years. Half the female members of the staff lusted after him, including Cecelia Halifax,
who had made an unsuccessful run at Lucien before bedding her sandaled Teutonic math genius.
“I was wondering,” said Beatrice, leaning with feigned nonchalance against the frame of Lucien’s open door,
“whether I might have a word with you about the new girl.”
Lucien regarded her coolly over his desk. “Jihan? Why?”
“Because I’m worried about her.”
Lucien placed a stack of papers atop the mobile phone that lay on his blotter. Beatrice couldn’t be sure, but she
thought it was a different model than the one he usually carried. “It’s my job to worry about Jihan, Miss Kenton. Not
“It’s not her real name, is it?”
“Wherever did you get an idea like that?”
“I’m her teacher. Teachers see things.”
“Perhaps you didn’t read the note in Jihan’s file regarding loose talk and gossip. I would advise you to follow
those instructions. Otherwise, I will be obliged to bring this matter to the attention of Monsieur Millar.”
“Forgive me, I meant no—”
Lucien held up a hand. “Don’t worry, Miss Kenton. It is entre nous.”
Two hours later, as the hatchlings of the global diplomatic elite waddled across the courtyard of the château,
Beatrice was watching from the leaded window of the staff room. As usual, Jihan was among the last to leave. No,
thought Beatrice, not Jihan. The new girl . . . She was skipping lightly across the cobbles and swinging her book bag,
seemingly oblivious to the presence of Lucien Villard at her side. The woman was waiting next to the open door of
the limousine. The new girl passed her with scarcely a glance and tumbled into the backseat. It was the last time
Beatrice would ever see her. 2 New York
Sarah Bancroft knew she had made a dreadful mistake the instant Brady Boswell ordered a second Belvedere
martini. They were dining at Casa Lever, an upscale Italian restaurant on Park Avenue decorated with a small
portion of the owner’s collection of Warhol prints. Brady Boswell had chosen it. The director of a modest but wellregarded museum in St. Louis, he came to New York twice each year to attend the major auctions and sample the
city’s gastronomic delights, usually at the expense of others. Sarah was the perfect victim. Forty-three, blond, blue
eyed, brilliant, and unmarried. More important, it was common knowledge in the incestuous New York art world
that she had access to a bottomless pit of money.
“Are you sure you won’t join me?” asked Boswell as he raised the fresh glass to his damp lips. He had the pallor
of roasted salmon, medium well, and a meticulous gray comb-over. His bow tie was askew, as were his tortoiseshell
spectacles. Behind them blinked a pair of rheumy eyes. “I really do hate to drink alone.”
“It’s one in the afternoon.”
“You don’t drink at lunch?”
Not anymore, but she was sorely tempted to renounce her vow of daytime abstinence.
“I’m going to London,” blurted Boswell.
Not soon enough, thought Sarah.
“You studied there, didn’t you?”
“The Courtauld,” said Sarah with a defensive nod. She had no desire to spend lunch reviewing her curriculum
vitae. It was, like the size of her expense account, well known within the New York art world. At least a portion of
A graduate of Dartmouth College, Sarah Bancroft had studied art history at the famed Courtauld Institute of Art in
London before earning her PhD from Harvard. Her costly education, funded exclusively by her father, an investment
banker from Citigroup, won her a curator’s position at the Phillips Collection in Washington, for which she was paid
next to nothing. She left the Phillips under ambiguous circumstances and, like a Picasso purchased at auction by a
mysterious Japanese buyer, disappeared from public view. During this period she worked for the Central
Intelligence Agency and undertook a pair of dangerous undercover assignments on behalf of a legendary Israeli
operative named Gabriel Allon. She was now nominally employed by the Museum of Modern Art, where she
oversaw the museum’s primary attraction—an astonishing $5 billion collection of Modern and Impressionist works
from the estate of the late Nadia al-Bakari, daughter of the fabulously wealthy Saudi investor Zizi al-Bakari.
Which went some way to explaining why Sarah was having lunch with the likes of Brady Boswell in the first
place. Sarah had recently agreed to lend several lesser works from the collection to the Los Angeles County
Museum of Art. Brady Boswell wanted to be next in line. It wasn’t in the cards, and Boswell knew it. His museum
lacked the necessary prominence and pedigree. And so, after finally placing their lunch orders, he postponed the
inevitable rejection with small talk. Sarah was relieved. She didn’t like confrontation. She’d had enough of it to last
a lifetime. Two, in fact.
“I heard a naughty rumor about you the other day.”
“And what was the topic of this rumor?”
“That you’ve been doing a bit of moonlighting.”
Trained in the art of deception, Sarah easily concealed her discomfort. “Really? What sort of moonlighting?” Boswell leaned forward and lowered his voice to a confiding whisper. “That you’re KBM’s secret art adviser.”
KBM were the internationally recognized initials of Saudi Arabia’s future king. “That you were the one who let him
spend a half billion dollars on that questionable Leonardo.”
“It’s not a questionable Leonardo.”
“So it’s true!”
“Don’t be ridiculous, Brady.”
“A non-denial denial,” he replied with justifiable suspicion.
Sarah raised her right hand as though swearing a solemn oath. “I am not now, nor have I ever been, an art adviser
to one Khalid bin Mohammed.”
Boswell was clearly dubious. Over antipasti he finally broached the topic of the loan. Sarah feigned dispassion
before informing Boswell that under no circumstances would she be lending him a single painting from the alBakari Collection.
“What about a Mon...
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- Fall '19
- Saudi Arabia, Sarah