Book: A Long Night in Paris
Author: Dov Alfon (Transl. Daniella Zamir)
Publisher: Maclehose Press
Pages: 425; Price: Rs 499
An Israeli passenger disappears with a blonde woman in red less than two hours after alighting from his flight at Charles de Gaulle airport, Paris. The young man is no more than a software executive, who is in the city to attend a European computer fair. His disappearance, however, sets off the alarm bells of Colonel Zeev Abadi, newly reinstated chief of an elite wing of the Israeli intelligence. Abadi has happened to be on the same El Al flight, un peu par hasard — partly by chance. Over the course of the next 24 hours, the young Israeli’s kidnapping will set off eleven more murders and a transcontinental race to trace a rogue agent’s itinerary through the streets of Paris, before the body count constitutes an international emergency.
By the time readers are able to decipher Abadi’s motives, they are already deeply wrapped up in the multiple storylines in progression. When Abadi is not trying to be too “Bond-esque,” as one reviewer describes it, his character becomes relatable and refreshing to read about, be it his childish reluctance to share his mother’s baked goods with the French commissaire, or his silent deference to his deputy, the intrepid Lieutenant Oriana Talmor, working with Abadi to trace the rogue agent from Israel.
Contrary to the impression given by the book’s blurb, the events leading up to the novel’s climax are not achieved through the sole efforts of a maverick ex-military man Abadi, but rather the coordinated moves played by Lieutenant Talmor and hawk-eyed Commissaire Jules Léger of the Police Judiciare as they unravel the maneuvers of Chinese assassins, Swiss businessmen and politicians of all nationalities. As dizzying as it is to zip through 121 chapters covering at least a dozen points of view, Alfon never manages to lose his readers as he jumps from Macau to Jerusalem to Paris.
Having served in Unit 8200 of the Israel Defence Forces, journalist Alfon makes an impressive debut with A Long Night in Paris. Impressively translated by Daniella Zamir, this offering will certainly take its place among 2019’s best reads in the thriller and mystery category.