A novel originally written in Hebrew and than becoming the first of Zur’s books to be translated into English. The background for the story is one of the most exotic settings possible. The action takes place in India, several cities and a wild frontier near Pakistan. Descriptions are tendered by an author that through his own travels and adventures has seen these areas and witnessed the events described that play out as background.
Dotan Naor, an ex-Israeli Operator turned private investigator, takes up a bet he has made with an acquaintance of his who is privately a ruthless individual selling Israeli made weaponry to any buyer that can pay for them. Willy Mizrachi bets that in one year from the date he meets with Dotan he will have his son returning to work for him with a wife and child in tow. Like many ex-Israeli soldiers, his son decides to travel to the Himalayas in India in order to “find himself”. Dotan takes the bet but than finds himself forced to go after Willy who has taken the initiative to go after his son himself.
The makings of a great story and the descriptions of cities in India, their overcrowding, poverty, filth and total corruption coupled with the fascinating views of a part of the Indian subcontinent that includes Tibet and borders with Pakistan and China are unfortunately not enough to make up for a rambling style of writing. The characters not at all fleshed out move from scene to scene listlessly making for a novel that leaves the reader trying to keep up with what’s going on and who is where. The fact that Zur has published other books featuring Dotan Naor might mean that it is the fault of the translation of this novel that causes the problem, but with that “Death in Shangri-La” does not live up to the promise of the exotic setting and events that are not touched upon outside of Israel and India.
8/18 Paul Lane
DEATH IN SHANGRI-LA by Yigal Zur. Oceanview Publishing; Sew edition (August 7, 2018). ISBN 978-1608092994. 272p.