cover image Forbidden Love in St. Petersburg

Forbidden Love in St. Petersburg

Mishka Ben-David, trans. from the Hebrew by Dan Gillon. Overlook, $26.95 (432p) ISBN 978-1-4683-1021-4

Former Mossad agent Ben-David (Duet in Beirut) makes the most of his professional expertise to craft a complex and moving story of a reluctant operative’s attempts to return to a normal life. When Yogev Ben-Ari was recruited into the Mossad, he organized operations against enemies of Israel, such as a Syrian negotiating with North Korea to acquire chemical weapons. To his dismay, he soon becomes more than just a planner and observer when he’s designated to pull the trigger on a target in Hong Kong. That shift, and the deceptions it entails, causes tremendous tensions in his marriage, already affected by the time he must spend away from his wife, childhood sweetheart Orit; the two of them are desperately trying to conceive a child. The narrative effectively toggles between that relationship and one that Yogev begins with a Russian woman during an assignment in St. Petersburg. Convincing tradecraft, coupled with a plausible look at the inner life of a spy with a license to kill, will remind readers of the best of John le Carré. (May)