Author(s): Jonathan de Shalit
Publisher: Atria / Emily Bestler Books
Release Date: January 30th 2018
Genre(s): Spy Thriller
The odds that you’ve read about this author’s life are pretty slim. I’d probably even say impossible. Jonathan de Shalit is nothing more than the pseudonym of a former high-ranking member of the Israeli Intelligence Community. There’s something quite fascinating about an author whose books need to be vetted and approved particularly by a special Governmental Ministers’ Committee. With Traitor, Jonathan de Shalit definitely proves his experience in the field through minuscule details and delivers a decent spy thriller.
In Traitor, a young Israeli man presents himself at an American embassy in the heart of Rome to offer himself to commit treason—we could also fancifully call it spying— against his own country. Problem is that the agent to whom he unveils his ambitious plans to rise among the elites and communicate secret strategies is actually a Russian mole himself. After years of information-sharing to those who weren’t who he thought they were, a hint of a mole has been circulating among agents and a special top-secret team of veterans has been put together to discover the identity of this traitor.
For a spy thriller, Traitor has proved to be quite captivating. There was an atmospheric air of deceit that chocked me throughout the hunt for a mole that I couldn’t stop breathing in addictively. With a team composed of actors who have been through a lot and who are dragged back into action, I felt like they conveyed the very nature of their jobs with near perfection. Living in the shadows, embracing multiple identities, tracking people of interest internationally. You simply see everything that embodies a spy in this. The very essence of the job is described and integrated within the prose which is no easy feat. My own knowledge of what the job of these fellows was confirmed and I can say that it was delivered with great care.
It is however worth mentioning that for a novel with a title like this one, you sure don’t get much from the other governments’ side. Although enough to tease us on their methods and their strategies, especially the final chapter, Traitor focuses especially on the special team tasked with identifying an unknown mole. While the process that the team goes through to find the traitor was treacherous, in the sense that they had to rely heavily on gut feelings and deductions, I found myself satisfied by the authenticity of the methodology used to track down potential targets. Even if the point of view of all the traitors felt lacking in depth and complexity, Traitor still delivers a solid espionage story where both HUMINT and SIGINT is used appropriately in order to catch a traitor.
MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★☆☆
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Till next time,