A Fly Has a Hun­dred Eyes

Aileen G. Baron
  • Review
By – February 24, 2012

Set in Pales­tine in 1938, this mys­tery tracks the path of Lily Samp­son, a young arche­ol­o­gist, as she inves­ti­gates the mur­der of her men­tor. Dodg­ing author­i­ties and cross-fire, Lil­ly maneu­vers through risk and safe­ty, decep­tion, attrac­tion, and unabat­ed curios­i­ty. Her cir­cuitous path brings her to grasp the forces at work cre­at­ing, and resist­ing the for­ma­tion of the State of Israel. 

Lily is tal­ent­ed and female in the almost all male work world of the 1930’s. She is obsessed by a sense of per­son­al respon­si­bil­i­ty to the arti­facts she uncov­ers, for they con­nect to her family’s emo­tion­al his­to­ry as much as to the arche­ol­o­gy and pol­i­tics of the time. Lily’s work places her in the cen­ter of British, Zion­ist, and Nazi intrigue and the nov­el traces her grow­ing abil­i­ty to con­tend with many char­ac­ters and sit­u­a­tions that are not what they seem. 

Occa­sion­al­ly, author Aileen Baron’s nar­ra­tive per­spec­tive shifts awk­ward­ly, as though we are inside Lily’s thoughts one moment, and observ­ing her cold­ly from the out­side on the next page. How­ev­er, rich descrip­tions of Pales­tin­ian-set­tler vio­lence, ear­ly kib­butz life, Nazi func­tionar­ies, Arab wed­dings, desert arche­o­log­i­cal digs, and the gold­en beau­ty of Jerusalem’s streets fill this nov­el with a graph­ic and rough beauty. 

Ellie Bar­barash is a writer, musi­cian, and dis­abil­i­ty activist liv­ing in Philadel­phia. Her non-fic­tion has been pub­lished in Bridges. Ordained as a Kohenet, she is work­ing on pro­duc­ing an anthol­o­gy, Clear­ing the Spring, Sweet­en­ing the Waters: A Renewed Call to Torah.

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