Dotan Naor, an Israeli private investigator who was ousted from the Shin Bet security—Israel’s internal security service—goes to Thailand to find Sigal Bardon, a beautiful young girl from a wealthy Israeli family. Sigal has disappeared in Bangkok—completely. Dotan has connections in Thailand and he is familiar with Bangkok’s dark side—the narrow alleys with bars and hookers, trenches of stagnant water, hotel rooms with illicit activity. This is where he intends to start his search. But when the passport of the missing Israeli girl ends up in his hands during his first taxi ride in the city, he’s suspicious that someone is playing him. But who? And why?
As Dotan searches for Sigal, police corruption blocks his every path while he delves deeper. Every lead he pursues draws him closer and closer to a black hole in his “own” path—one intertwined with his pursuit of Sigal—one that leads him to Reuven—and the haunting failure that led to the dismissal of both of them from Shin Bet. The wound between Dotan and Reuven is raw and deep, but Dotan realizes it must be healed in order to save Sigal.
Israeli writer and journalist Yigal Zur met with The Big Thrill to discuss PASSPORT TO DEATH, his latest thriller featuring ex-Mossad agent Dotan Naor:
What was the biggest challenge this book presented? What about the biggest opportunity?
The challenge was to create the plot while not disclosing to the reader the real background and the past hostility between the Israeli main characters. The opportunity was to create a real location, a lot of diverse characters from different countries and backgrounds, and to remain interesting.
How does this book make a contribution to the genre?
I think it is a background which is not familiar to most readers in the USA. PASSPORT TO DEATH is a rhythmic and incredibly Israeli thriller. Although it takes place at the other end of the globe, it penetrates into a bustling microcosm of Israeli characters—down-and-out backpackers, business owners, foreign ministry employees, former security service personnel, Buddhist monks, criminals with no inhibitions, drugged young men, prostitutes with a philosophical world view—and connected to a whirlpool of violence, passion, and spirituality.
Which took shape first: plot, character, or setting?
Two things took shape first : the location—I knew I wanted to set it in Bangkok—and the two main characters—Dotan and Reuven and the conflict between them, or what I call the “black hole.”
No spoilers, but what can you tell us about your book that we won’t find in the jacket copy or the PR material?
It is a passport to a world most thriller readers haven’t seen before.
Yigal Zur is a noted Israeli writer and journalist who has written 13 books till now. His thriller PASSPORT TO DEATH is the first to feature ex-Mossad agent Dotan Naor and takes place in Thailand (to be published in November 2019, Oceanview). His second thriller, Death in Shangri-la, which was the first to be translated into English (published by Oceanview, 2018) continues to feature Dotan Naor and takes place in North India. The third thriller in the same series is Child of Dust, which takes place in Ko-Samui, Thailand, and in Cambodia. Zur also wrote travel books and guides to India and China and a script for Menelik—A Black Jewish Prince, which was filmed in 1999.
Amongst his published works are the novels Dark Prune, Spring of Almond’s Blossom, and The Monsoon’s End.
To learn more about the author and his work, please visit his website.