Today I am delighted to join the blog tour for The Righteous Spy by Merle Nygate. My thanks go to Katherine Sunderland of Verve Books for inviting me to join the tour and providing the advance copy for review. Here is what the book is about.
About the Book
INNOCENT LIVES ARE AT RISK… BUT WHO IS THE REAL ENEMY?
Eli Amiram is Mossad’s star spy runner and the man responsible for bringing unparalleled intelligence to the Israeli agency. Now, he’s leading an audacious operation in the UK that feeds his ambition but threatens his conscience.
The British and the Americans have intel Mossad desperately need. To force MI6 and the CIA into sharing their priceless information, Eli and his maverick colleague Rafi undertake a risky mission to trick their allies: faking a terrorist plot on British soil.
But in the world of espionage, the game is treacherous, opaque and deadly…
A twisting international spy thriller, The Righteous Spy is a shocking page turner that portrays a clandestine world in which moral transgressions serve higher causes. A must-read for fans of Homeland, Fauda and NCIS, it will also appeal to readers of Charles Cumming and John le Carré.
The Righteous Spy is a very slow burning novel, so if you are looking for a high octane espionage thriller this may not be the book for you. Set mainly in the UK, the book does open in quite dramatic style with Mossad Agent Eli Amiram taking down someone who he believes to be an imminent threat on his journey into the office. But, much like everything else in this novel, nothing is quite as it seems, but the scene is set for all that is to come.
Sent to London with his colleague Rafi, Eli has two important tasks. One, to bring a former double agent, Red Cap, back into the fold and two, to ensure the success of a classified operation, Sweetbait. It is hard to say much more about the central story without giving away some of its intricate twists and turns, but Sweetbait is a terrorist plot on which a young woman, Sahar, is willing to act as martyr, or shahida, and sacrifice herself for the sake of her country. Can she be stopped before it is too late?
I will admit that I wasn’t sure quite what to expect when I started to read this book. It is very cleverly plotted and all the seemingly unconnected threads are pulled together in the most dramatic of ways, but it takes a while to build and to really get into the heart of the novel. In reality, this slower pace adds a level of authenticity to the story as it is rarely all high action intrigue in the world of the secret services like you might expect to see on an episode of spooks. There is a lot of time spent in the book creating the narrative and establishing the characters so that by the time the real tension starts to build and we draw closer to the main event you are properly invested in all around you.
Invested and perhaps a little confused but not in a bad way. With all the talk of espionage and double agents it is hard to know who, if anyone, to trust. I did find myself warming to Eli more than Rafi as the story progressed, although there are times to question both men’s actions. There is also Rafi’s contact, Trainer, or Petra, who is brought in to keep an eye on Sahar in the weeks leading up to her sacrifice. Petra is a strong character, a former agent herself and while I was initially unsure as to her true role in the story, she was someone I also grew to respect, if not always like.
To me, the novel is a complex look at the idea of honesty, loyalty and personal belief or faith. Sahar feels she is making the ultimate sacrifice for her religion and her people and yet she may be misguided. Eli and Rafi are taking a stand for their country too, doing their duty as Mossad agents and following the path they feel to be right. And Petra is following her own path and her independence is based purely on her own morals, rather than any code of god or country. Perhaps the simplest and most touching part of the book, as strange as it may seem, was the interaction between Eli and Redcap. Although driven by a need to complete a mission, there is also the sense of a genuine bond between the two men which extends beyond the job.
As I said, this is not a fast paced novel but if you stay with it, allow for the scene and background setting to occur, then you will be rewarded with a story rich in prose and discussion points, asking you to question whether the ends can ever justify the means, challenging the very idea of sacrifice and making you wonder just who, of all the characters you meet, the ‘righteous spy’ really is.
If you would like to read the book for yourself, you can find a copy at the following links:
About the Book
Merle Nygate is a screenwriter, script editor, screenwriting lecturer and novelist; she’s worked on BAFTA winning TV, New York Festival audio drama and written original sitcoms; previously she worked for BBC Comedy Commissioning as well as writing and script editing across multiple genres. Most recently, Merle completed her first espionage novel which won the Little Brown/UEA Crime Fiction Award. It was described by the judge as ‘outstanding’.
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