THE MOSSAD JOB by Menahem Misgav

August 14, 2020


From the publisher:

Back in the old days they used to do it for a living.

Now, they are looking for a revenge.

Rotem is a retired Mossad agent, a proud grandfather and a man who enjoys life to the fullest. One day while on a trip to Europe with his wife, he listens to an interview on local radio that utterly infuriates him.

The interviewee, Meshulam Muller, is a Dutch Jew who immigrated to Israel, was recruited into the ranks of the Mossad, and was subsequently fired from the organization while still in training. Ever since, he has been busy dealing in expensive works of art and most of all, tarnishing the reputation of the organization in every possible forum.

With the same focus and determination of his best days in action, Rotem decides to gather some friends who served with him in the Mossad. After so many years of Muller bad mouthing the organization that is so sacred to them, they decided to run a sting operation on Muller. This brilliant and precise scam will scare and embarrass him.

However, the members of the team, who were so used to being at the cutting edge, realize that times have changed. Situations they had never known in their operative past upset their reality through and through and with it, their entire operation…

A fascinating look into the Israeli Mossad the top tier of the Israeli clandestine spy organizations. The author apparently did not serve in the Mossad, but his insights into the organization seem to be founded on some inside information. The novel has an interesting plot, a cast of characters that are depicted as having served with the Mossad and are currently retired, and the villain of the piece who briefly served with the Mossad but was let go by them as being unfit for duty.

Meshulam Muller is a Dutch Jew that emigrated to Israel, joined the Mossad but was found unfit for the group and let go. Since his departure from the spy organization he has been dealing in expensive works of art and at the same time making sure that he continuously works at tarnishing the reputation of his short-term employer. Rotem is an honorably retired member of the Mossad; a proud grandfather and living with the love of his life. While on a trip to Europe with his wife he hears a radio broadcast by Muller the content of which infuriates him. He decides to exact revenge and does so in true Mossad fashion. He assembles a team, draws up an operation plan, and paying attention to the details proceeds to set up a scam on Muller. This is not to kill him but to get the man to give them a sum of money approximately equal to the funds he gained via utilizing the attacks on the Mossad. The aim is to get the money, donate it to charity and make Muller aware that he has been scammed.

The operation is described with the various retired Mossad agents playing the parts that approximate what they did while active. The novel is a short one and lends itself quite neatly to starting and finishing it in one comfortable read. It is also a reason to look for Misgav’s next book.

8/2020 Paul Lane

THE MOSSAD JOB by Menahem Misgav. Independently published (May 7, 2020). ISBN: 979-8643989912. 172 pages.



November 27, 2019

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A Will Parker Thriller, Book 1

Anderson Harp’s novel “Northern Thunder” was first published in 2017 concerning a covert mission into North Korea. It is just as exciting today as when written but the salient facts about that rogue nation have changed somewhat since that time.

Will Parker, a protagonist in several of Harp’s books, is enjoying life as a civilian in his home town when he is called upon by the U.S. government to reenter service in order to handle a very important mission. He will be tasked with infiltrating North Korea in order to snap a picture of Peter Nampo, a top scientist who is developing technology for that country. His technology would be used to destroy enemy satellites, most obviously those placed into orbit by the United States.

Will is given the impression that all he has to do is take the picture in order for other people to hunt down and kill Nampo. Although not so readily he accepts the mission with the provisos that he can use his own team to assist him and set the training sequences necessary to handle the job and the frigid weather that he will face in North Korea.

The novel is replete with action from one end to the other. Will finds that not only is he faced with the almost impossible task of sneaking into North Korea and finding Nampo, but the high probability that he must contend with problems presented by members of his own government. An all-night draw, of course, but in spite of some facts being dated, the book is still one to draw in readers to the novels of Harp anxiously awaiting future stories from this author.


Anderson Harp’s novel ‘Northern Thunder’ banned in China: Storyline involves an American spy on a dangerous mission to North Korea

Author Anderson Harp was excited when he learned that his book Northern Thunder would be available in China, until his publisher told him that the book was rejected by China’s state-run General Administration of Press and Publication (GAPP).

“Some content about political relations regarding China and Russia, North Korea, South Korea and the United States in this book are negative, so we’re not allowed to print this book in mainland China,”read a statement from the printer on why the book was banned. GAPP has the legal authority to screen, censor, and ban any publication in China.

“Censorship is still very active in China,” said Harp, a retired Marine. “To this day, they still have public book burnings.”

The events portrayed in Northern Thunder begin in 2010 and cover the rise of the Kim Jong-un regime. The plot follows Marine veteran William Parker on a mission to stop a psychotic scientist in North Korea who is developing a nuclear bomb. The prescient storyline is more relevant and believable today with escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea in the current news.

“Clearly, the story hit a nerve,” said Harp. “For the Communist Party of China to ban Northern Thunder, their GAPP didn’t like what it saw in the book of North Korea’s efforts to put a lightweight thermonuclear weapon on an intercontinental missile aimed at the West Coast.”

Harp is the author of three military thriller/spy novels, all featuring protagonist Parker, a Marine who gets tapped for dangerous missions around the world. Harp’s other books in the Parker series are Retribution (2014, Kensington) and Born of War (2015, Kensington).

With 30 years of military service, Harp served in the Persian Gulf, Central America, Europe, Korea, and the Pentagon. He was also mobilized for Operating Enduring Freedom, the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, where he was Officer in Charge of the Marines’ Crisis Action Team for Marine Forces Central Command and Marine Forces Pacific. He also served in operation centers that overlooked Korea.

11/19 Paul Lane

NORTHERN THUNDER by Anderson Harp. Lyrical Underground (November 26, 2019). ISBN 978-1516109791. 254p.




November 10, 2019

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Kate Henderson is a senior MI6 officer who heads up the Russian desk for the British organization.  We meet her at a point where she is acting on a tip that the Russians have a high-level spy working at a level guaranteed that he or she will be privy to important information that could do enormous harm to Great Britain. Acting on the tip received, she is trying to get a young girl to take a job on the yacht that is indicated to be sailing with an important Russian official. If his talks are recorded, it would be possible to ascertain who the spy is in the British government. She uses the ploy with the girl she wants to go onboard the yacht that she and her sister, who are attempting to enter England as immigrants, would be guaranteed their residency.

Unfortunately, the girl’s identity is discovered, and she is murdered. Kate is galvanized into raising the level of the search for the mole in the government. At one point Kate herself is thought of as possibly being the mole along with several other people also suspected of being the spy.

The novel moves to cover her search and reactions of both herself and her assistants. Very well done and very engrossing. One of the features used by Bradby in bringing his characters to life is the descriptions of both Kate and her assistant’s private life. These become real people experiencing strains in their personal lives as well as the pressure of doing their jobs. Kate is married, has two children, a girl who is the complicated age of 15 going on 25 and who has encountered her first boyfriend. The boy’s demeanor is not to Kate nor her husband’s liking. There is also a son looking to find his direction in the world. Kate has the misfortune of having an overbearing mother that never misses the opportunity to downgrade her daughter. Her family is very important to her but so is her job, and the conflicts involved are well handled by the author.

The search for the mole is the crux of the matter, and the reader is kept appraised of the investigation into capturing him along with both the family and her job’s pressures. The ending is well done but would seem to rule out any further novels featuring Kate Henderson and her assistants on the MI6 Russian desk. On the other hand, the treatment by the author of this book would certainly indicate future books done as well as this one.

11/19 Paul Lane

SECRET SERVICE by Tom Bradby. Bantam Press; First Edition, First Printing edition (2019). ISBN 978-1787632035. 368p.


THE ACCOMPLICE by Joseph Kanon

November 7, 2019

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During the Second World War, Adolf Hitler found that he could rally the German army as well as the people by selecting scapegoats to blame for the poor economic conditions the country found itself in. He was able to sell the country on the need to go to war and at the same time began the persecution of the groups that were selected as scapegoats. Among these were Jews and Gypsies. Hitler began the mass extermination of his scapegoats by sending them to concentration camps where many were killed in gas ovens as one means of destroying those groups. Both guards and supervisory personnel easily fell into the positions of both condoning the killing as well as rationalizing their own part in the murders by stating that they acted under orders from above.

The Accomplice is a hard-hitting novel telling the story of the finding of one of the medical doctors that had tortured men, women, and children to death in the name of approved experiments.  Dr Otto Schramm was head of “experiments” at the Auschwitz camp in Poland and managed to elude capture when the war ended.  Seventeen years after the war ended it was thought that Schramm had been killed in an auto accident and searches for him ended. But one of the foremost Nazi hunters, Max Weill, sees him walking on the streets of Hamburg and wants to go after him. Unfortunately Max is a sick man and possibly due to the excitement of the sighting suffers a heart attack and passes away. But not before he charges Aaron Wiley his nephew that is visiting from the US to continue the search. Aaron is an employee of the CIA but basically one working strictly at a desk. Knowing that Max’s wife, Aaron’s aunt was killed by Schramm he takes some vacation from the CIA and begins to chase him.

The main section of the novel is taken up with the chase.  Schramm had fled to Argentina and Aaron goes to Buenos Aires to look for him.  A most interesting situation develops when Schramm’s daughter is found, and Aaron meets her to obtain information about her father.

The two meet, and a love affair develops with the obvious question can Aaron take her father prisoner and bring him to justice to stand trial for his wartime crimes in the face of his feelings for his daughter?

The chase after Schramm and the very conflicting emotions of the people involved provide an excellent read pulling the readers into the plot with the changing feelings of the period shortly after WWII. This is not a story that can easily be forgotten with the emotions generated by the novel staying fresh for quite a while.

11/19 Paul Lane

THE ACCOMPLICE by Joseph Kanon. Atria Books (November 5, 2019). ISBN 978-1501121425. 336p.




November 6, 2019

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A Dotan Naor Thriller, Book 2

Yigal Zur is not a first-time author and has published several successful novels in the past. I truly wonder what happened to this book. It reads like someone was in a great hurry to finish something before a deadline or the person translating from Hebrew into English was the one in a hurry.

The plot of the novel finds Dotan Naor, an Israeli private detective, in Tel Aviv, when he is called by his partner to fly to Bangkok and find a missing girl. Dotan jumps on a plane with no information about who he is looking for but is handed two passports by the taxi driver that picks him up at the Bangkok airport, one of which is for Sigal Bardon, the girl he is looking for.

Dotan runs helter-skelter all around Bankok, gets beat up, visits a prison to interview someone that may know where Sigal is, and runs into an old friend (now enemy) of his. Reuven was with him in Shin Bet. Due to something that happened back then, and each blaming the other, they were both dismissed from the organization. Looks like Reuven engineered the entire trip and the hunt for Sigal as a means of bringing Dotan to meet with him in Bangkok.

No surprise ending and far from an all-nighter, the novel has the saving grace of supplying a portrait of Bangkok based upon the author’s visits there.

11/19 Paul Lane

PASSPORT TO DEATH by Yigal Zur. Oceanview Publishing; None edition (November 5, 2019). ISBN 978-1608093649.


MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER by Oyinkan Braithwaite

July 31, 2019

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From the publisher:


A short, darkly funny, hand grenade of a novel about a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has a very inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends

“Femi makes three, you know. Three and they label you a serial killer.”

Korede is bitter. How could she not be? Her sister, Ayoola, is many things: the favorite child, the beautiful one, possibly sociopathic. And now Ayoola’s third boyfriend in a row is dead.

Korede’s practicality is the sisters’ saving grace. She knows the best solutions for cleaning blood, the trunk of her car is big enough for a body, and she keeps Ayoola from posting pictures of her dinner to Instagram when she should be mourning her “missing” boyfriend. Not that she gets any credit.

Korede has long been in love with a kind, handsome doctor at the hospital where she works. She dreams of the day when he will realize that she’s exactly what he needs. But when he asks Korede for Ayoola’s phone number, she must reckon with what her sister has become and how far she’s willing to go to protect her.

Sharp as nails and full of deadpan wit, Oyinkan Braithwaite’s deliciously deadly debut is as fun as it is frightening.

If you are in the mood for a dark, twisted, super fun read then this is your book! My son actually recommended it to me, which doesn’t happen often (it’s usually the other way around.) So I had it in my to-be-read pile for a while, waiting for the mood to strike. Then I got an email from the publisher, asking if I would cover the paperback release and that was the impetus for me to finally sit down and read this.

It is a very fast read as it is a very short book. Don’t let that dissuade you, though, it is an excellent debut, full of great characters and a nuanced plot. It was rather shocking to me that this was a debut, you usually don’t see such tight plotting in a first novel. I love the way it was written, sort of report like, and the deft touch of black comedy really sings. At times it is a bit gruesome but never gratuitously so, especially considering the title and subject matter.

My son read this for a book discussion, which I thought was a pretty smart choice, it is an unusual pick for sure but there is definitely material to be discussed here. I often read books this short and complain about holes in the plot or lack of character development, so I am delighted to say that this is one of the best debuts I’ve read in a while. Grab the paperback or Kindle or listen to it on Audible, but don’t miss it. It has been optioned for a film by a London production company and I read this in Deadline: “The debut novel of Nigerian writer Oyinkan Braithwaite follows a Nigerian woman whose younger sister has an inconvenient habit of killing her boyfriends.” An inconvenient habit, indeed.

7/19 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

MY SISTER, THE SERIAL KILLER by Oyinkan Braithwaite. Anchor; Reprint edition (July 30, 2019).  ISBN 978-0525564201.  240p.



SAVING SOPHIE by Ronald H. Balson

March 5, 2016
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This is the follow up to Once We Were Brothers, a hugely popular by word-of-mouth book that was originally self published, then picked up by St. Martins. Ron Balson is a practicing attorney in Chicago so writing novels is his second career, and he’s quite good at it.

The two protagonists from Once We Were Brothers, private investigator Liam and attorney Catherine, return here and move between Chicago and the Middle East. The story opens with the theft of 88 million dollars and a man on the run, and we don’t know anything at all about the whys or hows of it. And then we learn…

The titled “Sophie” is a young girl who has been kidnapped by her maternal grandfather and taken to his fortress of a home in Palestine.

Sophie’s father, Jack Sommers, is heartbroken. His wife had died and when his in-laws sued for custody, trying to prove he was an unfit father, they lost their case. But Jack felt bad about cutting off his daughter from her grandparents, so he suggested visitation once a month. On their third visit, they disappeared with Sophie.

Jack is a lawyer and he manages to embezzle money in hopes of paying ransom and getting his daughter back. He disappears, but his partners in crime end up dead and there is still no sign of anyone getting Sophie back to him. Liam and Catherine are hired to find the money and Jack Sommers, and in the process agree to try and help Jack get his daughter back.

The story moves to the Middle East and Balson does a phenomenal job of interspersing the history of Zionism, the state of Israel and all the fighting in the Middle East going back to biblical times, creating a fascinating back drop to the present day story.

Turns out grandpa is from a long line of terrorists, and is in the middle of planning a September 11th size attack using biological warfare, creating a terrifying culmination to the story.

This is another exciting thriller from a terrific storyteller.

3/16 Stacy Alesi, AKA the BookBitch™

SAVING SOPHIE by Ronald H. Balson. St. Martin’s Griffin (September 15, 2015).  ISBN 978-1250065858. 448p.