cover image Duet in Beirut

Duet in Beirut

Mishka Ben-David, trans. from the Hebrew by Evan Fallenberg. Overlook, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4683-1020-7

Israeli author Ben-David, a former Mossad agent, makes his U.S. debut with an original, well-written thriller that examines the ethical complexities of covert operations. After terrorists detonate a car bomb in Jerusalem, the Israeli government accelerates its plans to take out the Hezbollah leader who planned the attack, Abu-Khaled, who’s based in Beirut. The operation turns into a fiasco when the veteran operative designated to pull the trigger, Ronen, fails to do so at the last moment. A year later, Ronen plans to finish the job, but this time he’s working without authorization. Gadi, who was his squad commander on the earlier mission, also goes rogue in an attempt to avoid another disaster. The irony of the setup is rendered fully plausible in the service of a suspenseful story line that doesn’t follow predictable lines. Le Carré fans will enjoy Ben-David’s look behind the scenes of government-sanctioned hits and the tension between loyalty to the chain of command and dissent. (Apr.)