A TASTE FOR TREASON by Ora Mendels

A TASTE FOR TREASON

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A book-length anecdote about the human costs of keeping Israeli intelligence strong, by the author of Mandela's Children (1986). Twenty years after an Israeli agent code-named Gershom has infiltrated Palestinian intelligence councils as Tewfik Mahmoud--he's now a member of the five-member Invasion Committee--he's suddenly threatened with exposure. Israeli security chief Dan Shemtov, determined to protect Gershom at any cost (""because he was his own creation, more than any son could ever be, riveted to him as indissolubly as his own bone and tissue""), bails embittered agent Benjamin Landau out of a French prison, where he'd landed after serving as a diversion in an earlier Israeli coup. Shemtov prepares to sell Ben down the river again by telling him another member of the Invasion Committee was the terrorist responsible for his first wife's death and is now a double agent who's turned against the Israelis; he'll then ask him to finger this other agent--Kamal Hussein, the father of Gershom's lover--to Ben's charismatic old acquaintance George Zaggad, who can be counted on to pass on the information to the Committee. Naive Ben jets to America to pass on the information, not realizing that Shemtov has arranged to make his bogus story more convincing by having him arrested for treason as he leaves the rendezvous. So far, so good; but once Ben's jailed again back in Israel, the novel stalls, then idles without going forward as Ben's American second wife, Kate, weepingly confronts intractable officials while Gershom sweats out the Committee's suspicions. As before, Mendels lays out political problems sensitively, then flounders instead of wrapping up her promising plot.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1990
Publisher: Birch Lane/Carol