Book Title: The Poisoner’s Agenda: Jerusalem 3,000
Author: Olivia Rodan Jacobs
Publisher: Outskirts Press (2010)
The Poisoner’s Agenda is a spy thriller set in Israel in 1996. The story follows Shin Bet agent Ari Yannai and his friend Peter Braden, whom he has enlisted to follow tourist Kate Gottlieb, who may or may not be assisting suspected terrorist Ayub Farid. Given we know up front that Farid is indeed a terrorist plotting to poison various Israelis, much of the suspense is derived from the uncertainty surrounding Gottlieb and whether or not she is a terrorist’s accomplice, not to mention whether or not Farid will succeed.
As a story, the novel works well, with its combination of suspense keeping the reader guessing until almost the very end, well developed characters, and a rich historical and geopolitical backdrop.
This is not to say the novel is without its flaws. The author’s tendency to launch into lengthy passages regarding the history of the area and the Middle East conflict – as well as on subjects as diverse as computer security and code-breaking – not only reveal an impressive breadth of knowledge, but also, at times, interrupt the flow of the story. Those who do not share the author’s clearly pro-Israel views may find the passages dealing with the conflict’s history particularly vexing.
Nevertheless, at the end of the day, the Poisoner’s Agenda is both entertaining and informative. As such, I highly recommend it.
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