Benjamin Tammuz, trans. from the Hebrew by by Kim Parfitt and Mildred Budny. Europa, $16 trade paper (185p) ISBN 978-1-60945-116-5
Secret agents are not known for their tender feelings, and perhaps for good reason. Tammuz's spare, stern novel considers the question of a secret agent in love and the odds do not favor a happy ending. First published in 1985, and set in Europe and Israel, it follows a young woman of extraordinary loveliness and the three men who are captivated by her. Tammuz (The Orchard) is a deft storyteller, drawing out elaborate histories and conveying both place and character with remarkable efficiency. He paces the exposure of information so effectively that despite knowing the basic events in the first 40 pages, the possibility of clarity and understanding draw us speedily through the rest of the book. The characters are attractive and intelligent, leading sophisticated lives in beautiful cities, all of which contrasts with the distinctly un-pretty story. It is a spy novel wrapped in a romance, which is to say it is much more about power and desire than it is about love, let alone tenderness. And like so many good spy novels, solving the mystery doesn't result in a happy conclusion; the Minotaur may be a lonely monster, but it's the labyrinth that will get you in the end. (May)
Reviewed on: 07/01/2013
Release date: 05/01/2013
Paperback - 978-0-451-11582-9
Hardcover - 210 pages - 978-0-453-00401-5
Ebook - 79 pages - 978-1-60945-920-8
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