Former Mossad agent Ya'ara Stein confronts her troubled past after the Israeli prime minister drafts her to head a secret, independent strike force that even Israeli intelligence doesn't know about.
"You'll be ruthless and violent if necessary," the prime minister tells her, knowing that will be no problem for a woman whose personal code is that "justice must be written in blood." For her unconventional unit, Ya'ara recruits a half-dozen young and unproven cadets. Their first job after setting up shop in Berlin is to track down the vanished girlfriend of an older colleague with whom the 34-year-old Ya'ara is close. The disappearance, they will discover, is linked to a Russian-orchestrated plot to unleash simultaneous terrorist attacks in Germany, England, and Italy—and have people think the attacks were perpetrated by a new wave of the Baader-Meinhof Gang, the Irish Republican Army, and the Red Brigades. Ya'ara and her charges also target a radical Muslim preacher in London and the jihadi murderer of a Jewish man in a Belgian synagogue. But for all its narrative strains, the book is less driven by plot than the intricacies and inadequacies of relationships. In this, it is very much in the mode of John le Carré (whose books are discussed by two characters), though not as enticing or compelling as the master's best work. Equally committed to love and violence, Ya'ara is such a strong character—a filmmaker when she's not involved in espionage—that one hopes she will return in a sequel that dives even deeper into her divided personality.
A different kind of spy novel by a one-time Mossad agent writing under a pen name, this follow-up to de Shalit's Traitor is a bit short on suspense but hums with drama and authenticity.