Reviewed by Elizabetta
TITLE: Road to Revenge
AUTHOR: Mell Eight
PUBLISHER: Less Than Three Press
LENGTH: 42,000 words
BLURB: Rafi only wanted to spend a relaxing day in Tel Aviv with his lover, Mihi. When a bomb goes off outside the restaurant where they stopped for lunch, killing several people and leaving Mihi in critical condition, Rafi vows to catch the culprits and make them pay. Set on revenge, Rafi accepts an assignment to infiltrate a group of humanitarians to figure out which of them was responsible—and to stop whatever they’re planning next.
We are dropped into the heart of Israel, in a large marketplace in Tel Aviv where our two protagonists, Rafi and Michael (Mihi), a married couple, are visiting from the States. A bomb goes off outside the restaurant they are eating in and they go from sightseers to victims of a terrorist attack. Mihi is critically wounded but Rafi, because of a bathroom break to the back of the building, is unharmed.
From this explosive start, the story unwinds very much like opening up a carefully wrapped box. Clues and information about the suicide bombing and the two men affected, Rafi, in particular, are slowly disseminated. Though it’s never really clear who these guys are in the world, they are more than meet the eye. Both men have close ties to Israel and Rafi, it seems, is no mere tourist. While Mihi lies recuperating from his injuries, Rafi is brought in to help Israeli intelligence to investigate the suicide bombing. The story moves quickly from two lovers on vacation to one of terrorism in the Middle East.
Rafi’s job is to infiltrate a small group of representatives of HADO, a humanitarian NGO, “Humans Against Death and Oppression,” thought to be involved in the bombing. The mission of the four HADO members is, ostensibly, to help Palestinians severely restricted by the West Bank barrier. They are thought to be responsible for a breach in the barrier which, ultimately, allowed the suicide bombers through. Rafi sets out to determine these member’s real focus— are they fanatics, blind co-conspirators to their cause, or are they being manipulated by terrorists? His reasons for joining the investigation are as much about revenge as routing terrorism.
Told in first person, the narrative has an up-close and personal feel as the reader moves with Rafi in the investigation. What is disconcerting is that some important information is not given: we never find out what Rafi’s connection is to the other operatives in the case, nor how they fit in with the Israeli intelligence system. Rafi is experienced with undercover investigation but we don’t know how nor what his work is back in the States. This story seems as if it’s missing a prequel or a large body of background information which would have made it much less confusing. Also, while the author seems very knowledgable about the setting and it’s history, the story skirts around turning into a political lesson. While “Road to Revenge” is an action-packed, compelling look, from the Israeli point of view, of a volatile situation I would have liked more information about its lead characters and how they fit into this world.
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