In the aftermath of a failed mission, a debased and demoted Mossad agent leaves the agency only to stew in a brine of bitterness and self-loathing. Ronen withdraws from his family and friends into a dark space, and when he finally emerges it is with the intention of embarking on the very assassination assignment he had been unable to complete the first time around. He returns to Beirut as a rogue agent, acting without the knowledge or support of the Israeli government.
When Ronen disappears, his wife quickly figures out where he’s headed and, frantic with worry, she informs Gadi, her husband’s previous supervisor. He is now equally concerned, knowing that his friend and colleague could both create a treacherous situation for Israel and face death, imprisonment, and torture in the process. Gadi’s concern is exacerbated by feelings of guilt related both to supervisory decisions that might have led Ronen to the failure that is eating him alive and the fact that Gadi had a previous relationship with his friend’s wife, a woman he still loves despite his own happy marriage.
Gadi attempts to wade through all of the bureaucratic meetings, political bickering, and paperwork required to get approval to follow Ronen to Beirut. When it becomes clear that the red-tape process is taking too long, that Gadi is running out of time, he, too, starts breaking the rules, fully aware of the likelihood that this mission will be his last.
Duet in Beirut is certainly a spy thriller. There is plenty of suspense and action, but it is much more layered than most books of this genre. The characters are well developed and fully human. They struggle with the contradictions between their personal feelings and ethics and their responsibility to protect their country and its citizens. Their internal struggles cannot help but seep over into relationships with their families and one another.