Death in Shanghai-La, by Yigal Zur

Seven stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to Yigal Zur for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Approached by Yigal Zur to read this thriller, I jumped at the opportunity to expand my horizons. Set in both Israel and India, the story encompasses both cultures intensely, giving the reader a literary smorgasbord on which to feast. Dotan Naor enjoys life in Israel, running a somewhat profitable business returning individuals who have been displaced against their will. When he is approached by a long-time friend, Naor agrees to help, though his latest target is less than eager to make the journey back from India. As the story progresses, Naor returns from India, though he’s hit a snag when the target is incarcerated for trying to traffic drugs. Just as he gets settled, Naor is informed that a friend has been found in India, decapitated at the hands of a band of terrorists. It would seem that there are a few cases of Israelis being killed by this roving group of rogues. As emotionally attached as Dotan Noar feels, he refuses to return to India—a place about which he knows a great deal—happy to have two feet planted on Israeli soil. However, the story has been garnering a great deal of press and Naor is convinced to travel across the world to get answers. Armed with his journalist, Naor travels to the rural part of the country, crossing into the contested zone between India and Pakistan. Seeking answers, Naor finds himself in Kashmir, trying to understand the struggles and what might have fuelled a ferocious attack on his friend. Working through the cultural differences in a far-away land, Dotan Naor will try to bring answers home without becoming an Israeli statistic, if he can help it. An interesting thriller that seeks to open the reader’s mind, Yigal Zur has done a decent job. While this novel did not resonate fully with me, I can see the allure for others.

I always enjoy opening my mind to new authors and cultures, particularly when the story pulls me in from the outset. While I cannot say I am fully sold, the thrills were high and the banter such that many will surely find much to enjoy in Zur’s work. Dotan Naor proves to be an interesting character, whose experiences helping those in need shapes both his personality and development as a character. The reader will be able to find something of interest as they seek to better understand this man in both his natural and adopted environs. The other characters that surround him prop Naor up and fleshes out the nuances in his character. The story proves decent, serving to introduce the reader to the wonders of India, as well as the intricacies of the local political situation. Zur draws on both the caste situation in India and the religious clashes with Pakistan’s large Muslim population, both of which help to add additional flavour to the narrative. The thrills occur throughout, with a murder investigation in full swing. The reader is pulled into the middle of it all with this high-impact story. I did find myself less than fully enthralled, but it could just be me having an off day. I suspect that others will enjoy this novel, brief and full of action, even if I had my own difficulties.

Kudos, Mr. Zur, for this interesting novel that spans two very different cultures.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: