I received this book for providing feedback to the author who is an Israeli and wants to extend his market to the English audience. (Translated by Sara Kitai)
Coming to the plot, in Israel, Dotan Naor is an ex-agent who works as a PI now to help Israelis in distress, usually work involving low combat/danger as in rescuing stranded kids etc…
We begin the book with a dialogue that happened a year before the rest of the story unfolds in the present, between Dotan and his arms dealer acquaintance Willy Mizrachi. His son is missing in India and he wants Dotans help to retrieve him. They make a bet that within one year they will be celebrating his sons new found epiphany.
Cut to the present, Willy is found murdered in Mumbai, India and his son is still nowhere to be found. A terrorist attack has paralyzed the Israelis stranded in Rishikesh & Manali along with an abduction in Kashmir followed by the Mumbai terror attacks. Nobody knows whats going on but Intel and Dotan has an idea it has to do with Willys murder. Against better judgement, Dotan decides to figure this all out by himself with the help of a Mossad agent Maya Kfir.
The story then heads towards the reason they have arrived in Delhi – Whether Israelis had supplied weapons to the terrorists that attacked Rishikesh described in the beginning of the book. So who killed Willy and why were the Israelis attacked forms the crux of this thriller. Together they try to unravel the secrets by tracing Willys steps and also through local help. Meanwhile a lot is happening at the terrorist sites, along with political news about India and Pakistan. Thus begins a journey of twists, corruption, and betrayal thrown in with a little romance.
One of the things I didn’t like was that the main character Dotan wasn’t clearly sketched. He is still revered as an ex-operative both in India and Israel but the way he thinks (or lack of action) makes him sound amateurish especially his attitude towards women and the attitude of the book itself towards women was unimpressive. In fact some of the dialogue too didnt sound right
The India he describes through the people, their belief and settings sounds pretty dated and almost alien to me. Perhaps that’s how a foreigner views Indians? It was bordering on caricature. (Look at the below quote)
“Take care my friend and may Vishnu be with you” – Colonel Krishna Pg.75
I know for a fact that Delhi is extremely Polluted and visiting India can be both appalling and fascinating at the same time. Though it was a bit disappointing to see India been described as such I guess all spy novels do get down to the nitty- gritty, especially the surroundings (but almost to the point of stereotype)
At some point I was also wondering where is this headed as everything seems to be a cultural collage and information but its put together well enough to not give it extra attention. (Also there’s the question of how much the translation could have effected the book).
Pros: Believable settings, Storyline, atmosphere and effort in language is seen.
Cons: Characterisation, dialogue delivery and less thrills for a spy thriller.
Bibliogyan Verdict – Has potential but some polishing work needed.
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Author Info (Website)
Yigal Zur is an Israeli writer, journalist, television host, and tour guide. He served in the military, spending time on the front lines in the Golan Heights during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. He is the only Israeli journalist ever to be embedded with the US Army in action during Desert Storm.
Zur attended L’Ecole International de Theatre Jacques Lecoq, Paris, and Beit Zvi School of Performing Arts, and he is a graduate of Tel Aviv University.
He lives in Jaffa, Israel, and travels extensively. He is the author of travel books and novels. Death in Shangri-La is the first of the Dotan Naor books to be translated from the Hebrew.