Book Title: The English Teacher
Author: Yiftach Reicher Atir
Translation: Philip Simpson
Genres: Military/Crime Fiction, Psychological Thriller, Spy Thriller, Suspense
Date Read: 08/31/16
Pub Date: 08/30/16
After attending her father’s funeral, former Mossad agent Rachel Goldschmitt empties her bank account and disappears. But when she makes a cryptic phone call to her former handler, Ehud, the Mossad sends him to track her down. Finding no leads, he must retrace her career as a spy to figure out why she abandoned Mossad before she can do any damage to Israel. But he soon discovers that after living under cover for so long, an agent’s assumed identity and her real one can blur, catching loyalty, love, and truth between them. In the midst of a high-risk, high-stakes investigation, Ehud begins to question whether he ever knew his agent at all.
In The English Teacher, Yiftach R. Atir drew on his own experience in intelligence to weave a psychologically nuanced thriller that explores the pressures of living under an assumed identity for months at a time.
I don’t read a lot of spy thrillers, but Penguin asked if I’d like to review it, and after reading on the back that it was perfect for fans of the TV show Homeland I quickly said yes. That comparison was spot on and made for an interesting read. Throw in the fact that the author used to work in the intelligence field and I was sold. I love reading from authors who have personal experience in the field they choose to write about; even if a story is fictional, it can’t hurt to have the benefit of experience to make the plot more realistic and believable. Since I don’t read much in the way of military/spy/political thrillers, I can’t say I know who to compare the writing style to, but what I can say is that it was an exciting read that is sure to dazzle fans of the genre.
This is one of many books I’ve read this year that has been translated into English, and while I enjoy these types of reads, I’m always a little nervous that pieces of the story and certain nuances will be lost upon transference, but that was not the case here. This story was clear, crisp, and controlled; three things I like in my thrillers. I’m sure a great deal of why this was so was due to the author’s personal experience in the intelligence field. The characters were well developed and we get more than a passing glimpse into their thoughts and backstory. I enjoyed how this felt like an extra perk in addition to the central plot itself. There is a tenderness to the relationship between Rachel and her handler Ehud; it goes much deeper than your typical “work” relationship. Romantic? Guess you need to read the book to find out! My only hesitation was that there were a few spots in the middle that slowed a bit; with something so fast paced it felt a bit of a shock to be halted so abruptly, but it picked back up nicely and was still a mighty fine read. I’d highly recommend this to fans of action thrillers, although this did have an edge of the psychological, due to it’s exploration of what happens to the human psyche after living undercover for so long. Very fascinating and a shorter read at under 300 pages.
*I received my copy via the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. Many thanks for thinking of me Niemah at Penguin!