Monday, September 24, 2018

Book Review: 'Exodus '95' by Kfir Luzzatto

Israeli author Kfir Luzzatto was born and raised in Italy, and moved to Israel as a teenager. He earned a PhD in chemical engineering and works as a patent attorney. Kfir has published extensively in the professional and general press, writing a weekly “Patents” column in Globes (Israel’s financial newspaper) and publishing a non-fiction book, THE WORLD OF PATENTS He is the author of several short stories but now mostly writes full-length fiction. Kfir is an HWA (Horror Writers Association) and ITW (International Thriller Writers) member and also serves on the editorial board of The Harrow Press as Anthology Editor. His award winning books include THE ODYSSEY GENE, THE EVELYN PROJECT, and now EXODUS ’95.

Kfir succeeds in creating a story fashion on both history and biblical tradition and contemporary issues and the result is a thriller that defies ignoring. It is an important book on many levels but especially satisfying as a fictional suspense filled novel.

His sensitivity to mood and atmosphere is established in the opening pages – ‘Portofino, Italy, July 1995 - The evening was beautiful, as July evenings can’t help being in Portofino. An assortment of elegantly dressed guests of mixed ages and nationalities populated the veranda of the Hotel Splendido. Dan Ze’evi sank into one of the luxurious armchairs provided by the hotel for its guests, deep in thought, fantasizing about how his business trip would fix all of his company’s problems. Little wonder then that a stranger’s unexpected question failed to register. Coming out of his reverie, he lifted his gaze, expecting to see a waitress pushing drinks at him as before. Instead, there was an elegant young woman before him, who was anything except a waitress. An heiress is more like it, he thought. She was slim and of medium height, with auburn hair and piercing green eyes. “Are you waiting for me?” she asked. She was so beautiful, and he wanted to say yes until it hurt. “I’m afraid not, unless you’re a middle-aged businessman in disguise who has shaved his mustache,” he responded instead, surprised at his own uncharacteristic wit. She flashed a smile at him, wiggling the tip of her nose as a bonus. “You’re Dan Ze’evi, right?” He felt the smile leave his lips. “How do you know my name?” he said, jumping to his feet in a late show of politeness. “I’m waiting for Andrey Leskov too,” she said. “He called to say he was running late and that he would arrive in Italy tomorrow. He asked me to seek you out and make sure that you got the message.” “Oh… do you work for him?” he asked. “You could say that.” “Doing…?” “I don’t think that we should talk shop tonight. Not before Andrey arrives,” she answered. Her long hair was arranged into a casual ponytail. Her whole girl-next-door look, free from any noticeable makeup, made her an unlikely candidate for a Leskov business representative. “Are you allowed to say your name, or is that off limits too?” he asked after a brief silence. “I am Claire Williams,” she said, blinding him with another smile and offering him a hand to shake. “Nice meeting you, Dan.” Gentle if sensuous opening to the thriller that lies ahead.

The synopsis gels the outline of the novel – ‘Claire, a young graphic designer, learns a secret that her dying New York neighbor has kept for twenty years: the whereabouts of Moses’ Biblical staff. Claire needs the help of an Israeli engineer and the money of a Russian oligarch to recover the staff before her body betrays her. But first she needs to stay alive in a race with fanatics, who will do anything to keep the staff from coming to light.’

Solid writing with a fine sense of pacing make this a novel difficult to ignore. Highly recommended. Grady Harp, May 17

Editor's note: This review has been published with the permission of Grady Harp. Like what you read? Subscribe to the SFRB's free daily email notice so you can be up-to-date on our latest articles. Scroll up this page to the sign-up field on your right.

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