The Spy’s Gamble  By:  Howard KaplanThe Spy's Gamble by Howard Kaplan
on June 5, 2018

“Kaplan is...without peer in his grasp of the delicate and explosive relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinians. This is a thriller in the best tradition of the genre.” -Los Angeles Times

When the Israeli Prime Minister boards a new stealth submarine in Norfolk, Virginia intending a celebratory ride and the sub vanishes, it sets in motion a suspenseful story that intertwines the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict with a story of what could be.

Shai Shaham—an Israeli intelligence officer—contacts old friend and adversary Ramzy Awwad—a former PLO intelligence officer and one of the great writers of his people—for help in locating the missing prime minister. But can they trust each other? Can their friendship withstand the turbulent political landscape?

Eli Bardin—an agent who is feeling the strain of being away from his wife and children for so long in the field—is also tasked to contact Ramzy for the help in finding the missing sub. It seems the Russian have great interest in the technology, and he must locate the prime minister...because losing him is a national calamity that threatens to upset a delicate political balance in the most terrifying ways.

Starkly depicting the excesses of both sides and moving through actual events, THE SPY’S GAMBLE relies on in-depth research to weave a thrilling tale of suspense of reconciliation between Israelis and Palestinians.

Take a moment to peruse the news and various headlines from around the world.  What do you see?  Chances are you have read newspaper headlines and watched television broadcasts full of conflict and strife.  After all, “bad” and dramatic news dominates the global media due to the simple fact that this is what people pay attention to!  Nowhere is this more evident than with the Middle East conflict which exists between Israel and Palestine.  Images of violence and bloodshed dominate headlines and flash across television screens on a consistent basis.  Where is the humanity?  Does it actually exist?  In The Spy’s Gamble, author Howard Kaplan adroitly captures and portrays the humanity which unmistakably does exist in this region, but is so often ignored by the mainstream media.  He does so in a thrilling and suspenseful tale of espionage and intrigue.  For those readers who enjoy carefully researched, factual history which is beautifully woven into a thrilling and electrifying story…read on!

Essentially, the story revolves around the disappearance of the Israeli Prime Minister.  When he takes a ride on a new stealth submarine just off the coast of Norfolk Virginia, he vanishes.  How does a military submarine simply disappear… and who could be responsible?  This is the question which Israeli Intelligence is assigned to answer.  However, this is no easy feat and the Israeli contingent soon find themselves looking to Ramzy Awwad, a former PLO Intelligence officer, for assistance.  Can these traditional adversaries possibly work together to solve this mystery?  Or perhaps this is a doomed mission which could ultimately lead to devastating and disastrous results!

Make no mistake, the plot of this political espionage thriller is altogether gripping and will keep you on the edge of your seat.  It is full of twists and turns and the reader is constantly predicting outcomes, only to self-correct when things suddenly turn in another direction.  It really is pure engagement!  However, while the plot is electrifying and engrossing, it is the historical elements which are seamlessly interwoven into the story which truly captured me.  I have a deep appreciation for authors who painstakingly research and then turn that material into top-notch fiction.  This is just such the case with Howard Kaplan and The Spy’s Gamble.  He has in-depth and superlative knowledge of the Middle East conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.  This keen awareness is blatantly obvious throughout the book.  The humanistic theme of reconciliation, compassion and compromise permeates the story and shows a deep understanding of long standing issues.

Do not be fooled into thinking that this novel is a mere history lesson however!  Indeed, as previously mentioned, it is thoroughly exciting and captivating.  The story is further supported by a cast of characters who are carefully developed and intriguing.  You have the cryptic Israeli intelligence officer Shai Shaham, who seems to be both cunning and vulnerable at the same time.  Then there is Eli Bardin who is undergoing his own personal life crisis.  Be that as it may, he is steadfast in his determination to do what is right.  There is also the former PLO intelligence officer Ramzy Awwad, whose crafty nature acts as a conundrum throughout the novel.  What is he really up to anyways?  Nevertheless, the one thing that these 3 dynamic men and the variety of other characters in the novel have in common is that they are all very human.  The novel and its characters show that the unique trait of humanity is all encompassing.  They all feel love, hate, grief and rage.  When political affiliations are cast aside they are all inherently human.  For instance, the bus accident in which a Palestinian family helps a busload of Jewish children is just one example of this in the novel.  The suffering which the continuing conflict brings has a profound impact on everyone.

Overall I found this to be a superb novel.  Howard Kaplan has a unique command of the written word and it seems to flow almost effortlessly. His knowledge of the subject matter greatly enhances the top quality of his book. I give this novel my highest rating.

5 out of 5 Humane Stars for this one!

About the Author:

HOWARD KAPLAN, a native of Los Angeles, has lived in Israel and traveled extensively through Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. At the age of 21, he was sent on a mission into the Soviet Union to smuggle a dissident’s manuscript on microfilm to London. His first trip was a success. On his second trip, he transferred a manuscript to the Dutch Ambassador inside his Moscow embassy. A week later, he was arrested in Khartiv in the Ukraine and interrogated for two days there and and two days in Moscow, before being expelled from the USSR. The KGB had picked him up for meeting dissidents and did not know about the manuscript transfers. He holds a BA in Middle East History from UC Berkeley and an MA in the Philosophy of Education from UCLA. He is the author of five novels.

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