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by Roni Dunevich and Sara Kitai, trans.
Harper Paperbacks, August 2016
480 pages
ISBN: 0062279785

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

At the start of RING OF LIES, the newly translated Israeli spy thriller by Roni Dunevich, an international crisis is unfolding. One by one, the members of a secret ring of Israeli spies called Nibelungs are being targeted for murder. They are undercover operatives, each only known by the code name of the city where they hide, as Paris, Florence, etc.

Alex Bartal, director of Mossad's Operations Division, is tasked with discovering who has betrayed the group and stop the murders before the entire group is destroyed. He meets with the enigmatic leader of the group, Justus Erlichmann, but soon after their encounter Justus is murdered. In trying to find the entire list of Nibelungs, known only to Justus, Alex discovers that Justus is incredibly wealthy. And he uncovers information that makes him believe Justus has been using his money to support Neo-Nazi groups.

A woman named Jane with whom he had once been briefly in love aids Alex in his investigation. Jane is also a Niebelung, code name London. Alex has a complicated personal history. His daughter had been abducted and tortured and his wife killed. He is haunted by both these events and with the difficult current relationship with his recovering daughter.

Dunevich presents many characters along the way, and it is often difficult to keep track of who they are. Alex is suspicious of most of them, as he does not know who has betrayed the group. The perpetrators of the murders always seem to be one step ahead of him. And Alex is in a continual tug of war with Reuven Hetz, the head of Mossad, who is reluctant to give Alex the support he needs and seems to obstruct Alex at every turn. At various intervals, the present day story is interrupted by what appear to be diary entries from WWII that detail the on-going struggle of a Jewish man during the Nazi occupation. The relationship between these journal notes and the events of the novel is slowly revealed.

There is much action and motion in the book and the short chapters keep the excitement going in this complicated tale. However, this format has its limitations in a lack of meaningful plot explanation. We also do not see fully realized characters and many of the characters are introduced and killed off quickly. Although the translation is a bit awkward in places, RING OF LIES is a book that will appeal to readers who enjoy international spy thrillers.

Anne Corey is a writer, poet, teacher and botanical artist in New York's Hudson Valley.

Reviewed by Anne Corey, October 2016

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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