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    Not a winner

    Many thanks to Edelweiss, Oceanview and Yigal Zur for an ARC in exchange for an honest review. This story is so confusing, I’m not even sure I can tell you what it is about. The main story is about Dotan, an ex-Israeli spy, who goes to India to find out what happened to his friend Willy, an arms dealer. Willy went off in search of his son and ends up beheaded. Dotan travels with Maya, a beautiful Mossad agent, who also wants to investigate what happened. At the same time, terrorists have killed and taken hostage Israeli students who have been travelling in India. The terrorists are using Israeli weapons which presumably Willy has sold them. I think. I’m not sure because I never really understood what this storyline had to do with the main story. It also brought in a bunch more characters that never really seemed to matter in the long run. This really was like a kitchen sink of ideas without real development, connection or clever twists to keep you interested. I never understood (or maybe believed) the reason for Dotan wanting to solve this murder. Willy wasn’t really a good friend and even though there was this bet they made about how Willy’s son would be returning to Israel, married and with a kid, that apparently made Dotan want to figure out what happened, I didn’t buy it. It never made any sense. The author also tried to bring in a lot of the natural beauty of India and some of the culture, especially their spirituality, but it did not work for me at all. I love the idea of India as a character itself and that could have worked had it been written better, but I felt it was trivialized and not treated with much respect. I didn’t feel transported nor did I learn anything. Maya and Dotan’s relationship wasn’t developed properly and I wasn’t invested in them as a couple at all. For being a main character, that presumably other books are based on, Dotan did not come across as a strong character. We don’t know that much about him but are supposed to believe these incongruous facts that are just dropped in from nowhere. He doesn’t grow or change or develop at all. Too much time is spent introducing these other plot line and characters instead of developing the main character and his storyline. I don’t think the author had a clear picture of what he wanted for this novel. He had a lot of ideas but never settled on one thing, instead tried to include everything. Was it a spy novel? Are you trying to make some political statement about governments, guns, terrorists and Israel/India relations? Are you trying to talk about spirituality, Buddhism and the next Dalai Lama? And I could go on with another three things this book was trying to be. I’m not sure if part of the issues I had with the writing, the stilted language, the incongruities in plot and the general confusion of storyline had anything to do with it being a translation. This might have worked better in the author’s native language. Let’s hope so.

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