Category: FT- Fiction Thriller


Deadly Ties by Aaron Ben-Shahar

June 23rd, 2020 — 1:53pm

Deadly Ties By Aaron Ben-Shahar

The author of this novel, Aaron Ben-Shahar is an Israeli attorney-at-law who has served in highly sensitive positions in the Israeli Secret Service. When I read his first novel, A Minister in a Box (see review), I could not help but believe that his description of mystery, intrigue, murder, secret agents, etc., must have been based on his own real experiences. Now once again, he has produced another novel which takes the reader behind the scenes of the Mossad, the Israeli highly secret intelligence agency as well as an Iranian comparable secret agency. It has an unbelievable plot, which is actually believable because it rings true.

The story features Bonnie, a prominent minister in the Israeli government who after the death of his mother finds a letter for him in his mother’s desk. Early in the story, we have learned that his mother had a onetime sexual fling many years ago. Now the letter tells him that the man he always thought was his father was not actually his biological dad. This leads Bonnie on an adventure to find this man who turns out be an equally high placed Iranian minister. Needless to say, this novel, as was the first one, is filled with mystery, intrigue, and twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat. It was hard to put down this book; I highly recommend it.

In addition to the entertaining value of this excellent well-written novel, it also deals with an area, which as a psychiatrist and student of human behavior I have pondered over the years; that is the occasion where a person becomes obsessed with the desire to know the nature of their biological identity when it has previously been unknown or in question.

There have been several movies which have dealt with this subject one way or the other. The names of some these films were( see links to reviews): Philomena, The Kids Are All Right, People Like Us, and Stories We Tell. I have also written about this subject on my blog(see link) Psychiatrytalk.com.

At times in conversation, I have asked an acquaintance what they might do if they received communication from the hospital where they were born was computerizing their records and they found out that the person was actually accidentally “switched at birth.” Would you want to meet your biological parent?

What if the situation were that the hospital was notifying you that a child born to you was accidentally switched at birth? Would you want to meet that long lost child? Suppose you were told that the family with your biological child would like to meet you, would you agree to this meeting? Would you tell your child that they were switched at birth? How would you feel if your child was anxious to meet the biological parent? Different people respond differently to these questions. The urgency of meeting the biological parent varies from person to person. Some people feel it would not make a difference in their life. I actually have known people who have discovered a biological parent unknown to them previously and then become very close to them.

These issues are part of the central theme of this intriguing book. Whether or not you would have the same feelings of the main character, I am sure you will find this an interesting and fascinating book well worth reading.

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A Minister in a Box by Aaron Ben-Shahar

March 30th, 2019 — 12:50pm

A Minister in a Box  by Aaron Ben-Shahar

This is an exciting adventure story that goes back and forth mostly between Jeronti, a small African nation, England and Israel. There are secret agents, some who had been very high up in the Mossad, as well a head Mafia guy, There is even an anesthesiologist who will keep the man in the box sedated as he is kidnapped in a most daring caper. At times I had difficulty keeping track of the characters, as their names were unfamiliar ones. But that did not stop this from being a page turner. (Yes, I actually read this in soft covered book.) Although this is touted as pure fiction, I could not help but wonder if some of the events may really have happened since the author has a history of having served in highly sensitive positions in Israel’s General Security Services.

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Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

June 24th, 2013 — 11:11pm

Red SparrowThe Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews  –  The Sparrow School is a school for specialized training of selected Russian spies in the art of sexual seduction which becomes helpful in recruiting people to betray their government and work for Russia. One of the central  characters of this book did go through this school although this is not the main emphasis of this true to life spy story. It is true to life because the author, Jason Matthews, like John La Carre, Ian Flemming and other well known writers did serve as an agent but not for the British as they did, or for the Russians, but for the Americans. He worked for the CIA for 33 years having postings all over the world, being a station chief in several countries and by his own admission recruiting double agents and training many of his junior colleagues in the art of spycraft. The details of carrying out espionage in a foreign country or trying to catch a traitor in your own country apparently requires meticulous attention to detail, complicated dead end drops, surveillance, counter- surveillance, studying everyone and every thing in the street, parks or alleys  around you , looking for people who might be looking for you, taking circuitous routes, doubling back, using parallel patterns of following targets, making “fish-hook” changes in direction and being a master of code words and code messages. There are hidden video cameras and microphones, special transmitters that shoot signals to satellites. There are agents from both sides that try to recruit each other and there are moles deep in the government of  one side or the other. Yet the story rings true not only because the author lived in this world but because we all know from the newspapers and television something about this history of the real world of espionage that continues even after the end of the so called “cold war”. Matthews does more than present us with authenticity. He also shows us his ability to write and capture images that imprint in the reader’s imagination. Here is a passage which the author is setting up an important event.

Thick and ragged as a  plug of surgical cotton from the the box, the fog occasionally licked up over the roadway of the bridge.  The lamps along the bridgeway came on and caught the fog, blowing right to left making it seem as if the bridge itself were moving on casters along the riverbank.

His passages, which included people  were even more vivid such as the description of a guy being murdered with a wire on his neck as he had sex with an female agent who had no idea this was going to happen. While the book had its share of blood there was much more an exploration of the motivation that allows people to make decisions to become a traitor and allow themselves to be turned. The acronym MICE is one example; money, ideology, conscience and ego. There are several characters that we come to understand (or think that we do), twists and turns, page turning or Kindle clicking tension and some inside insight into the world of spies. We also have a new successful writer on the scene. I understand he is working on his next story. This one his first, could lend itself to a sequel.  (2013)

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