The genre is familiar. A protagonist is confronted with a mystery that he must solve, but he senses that unseen forces are trying to stop him and he can’t be sure whom to trust. Less usual are the time and place — a noir version of Tel Aviv, on the eve of the watershed 1977 election that would make Menachem Begin prime minister.
The action begins when a one-time Mossad operative living in Canada, estranged from his war-hero father, returns to Israel after the father is murdered. Who killed him? Why does his will require the son to stage a play within 45 days of his death? What is the play’s hidden message, and who is trying to prevent the performance? David Starkman thought he had left his life in Israel behind, but now he has to uncover his father’s past and face up to his own.
True to the form, The Debba is packed with plot turns and has little time for character development. At its core, however, the story takes seriously the paradox of Jews and Arabs who mistrust or despise one another yet whose lives are inseparably intertwined. It’s a fast-paced, entertaining suspense novel that also provides food for thought.