The Deb­ba

Avn­er Mandelman
  • Review
By – September 19, 2011

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.

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