The Lie by Hesh Kestin
A “page-turner that will engage your mind and emotions in a way few novels do” (Stephen King) about a left-wing Israeli lawyer—famous for defending Palestinians—whose views face the ultimate test when her own son is captured and tortured by terrorists. Devoted mother, soon-to-be divorced wife, attractive lover of an American television correspondent, Dahlia Barr is a brash and successful Israeli attorney whose life’s work is defending Palestinians accused of terrorism. One day, to her astonishment, the Israeli national police approach Dahlia with a tantalizing proposition: Join us, and become the government’s arbiter on when to use the harshest of interrogation methods—what some would call torture. Dahlia is intrigued. She has no intention of permitting torture. Can she change the system from within? She takes the job.
Then, one horrible day, Dahlia’s son Ari, a twenty-year-old lieutenant in the Israel Defense Forces, is kidnapped by Hezbollah and whisked over the border to Lebanon. As fate would have it, the one man who may hold the key to Ari’s rescue is currently locked in a cell in police headquarters. He is an Arab who has a long and complicated history with Dahlia. And he’s not talking.
This isn’t a lengthy book, standing at just over 200 pages long and some chapters at only half a page and yet it still took me about three days to read.
The reason being that my political and religious knowledge around the area I was reading about is extremely limited so I was reading slowly in order that I understood what was behind the actions that were being taken in the book.
Bearing that in mind though, I thoroughly enjoyed the novel. The story is well told and does not rely on long explanations or descriptions to keep your focus. It says what it needs to say and moves on, and even in such a short novel, it manages to tell a complex story because of this leanness with prose.
Contradictory to these statements, the characters do feel fully fleshed out though, especially Dhalia Barr whom we follow as she changes careers before finding herself in the predicament of decision maker and mother when her son is taken hostage.
I did find it a little difficult to get into at first because of the unknown territory for me, but I am glad I stuck with it because it’s one of those great little novels that are worth sticking with when at the end you feel you have not only achieved, but become more aware in the process.
With thanks to the author and publisher Scribe for my review copy.