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Vicious Circle: A Novel of Mutual Distrust

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Overview

An Israeli government minister is assassinated in the home of his mistress. Days later, Elihu, an aging and decorated Mossad officer, leads his final raid, killing a Hamas leader in his bed and barely escaping with his life.

Out of this familiarly cyclical scenario emerges what is perhaps Robert Littell s most heartfelt and suspenseful novel. The action moves forward into the near future, when the global community, united under the leadership of a visionary woman president of ...

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Vicious Circle: A Novel of Mutual Distrust

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Overview

An Israeli government minister is assassinated in the home of his mistress. Days later, Elihu, an aging and decorated Mossad officer, leads his final raid, killing a Hamas leader in his bed and barely escaping with his life.

Out of this familiarly cyclical scenario emerges what is perhaps Robert Littell s most heartfelt and suspenseful novel. The action moves forward into the near future, when the global community, united under the leadership of a visionary woman president of the United States, brokers a major compromise between Israel and the Palestinian authority in the hopes of snuffing out the violent flash-point that fuels the flames of global terrorism.

But then, Isaac Apflbaum, a well-known fundamentalist Rabbi, is taken hostage by Dr. al-Saath, a legendary Palestinian terrorist, who demands the release of several Palestinian prisoners in exchange for his prisoner. As Israel coaxes Elihu out of retirement to hunt down the terrorist who motivated his final mission, al-Saath and Apflbaum find themselves building an extraordinary relationship between hostage taker and hostage: parallels between these two battle-hardened partisans become the bonds that could lead to reconciliation. But with the Mossad strike team closing in, has the vicious circle already been closed.

Ferociously suspenseful and brilliantly topical, Vicious Circle is a thriller that, like The Company before it, breaks down an entire culture of violence into the corrupted consciences that embody it.

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Editorial Reviews

Kevin Allman
Setting an espionage thriller in the Middle East is tricky. During the months between the editing and the publishing of Robert Littell's latest suspense novel, the Hamas party won the majority of seats on the Palestinian legislative council, and the open conflict that some of the characters in Vicious Circle seek to prevent is now unfolding on CNN and al-Jazeera. None of this, though, dilutes Littell's central thesis (or spoils his muscularly plotted suspense). In his speculative game of three-dimensional chess, the pieces may not reflect recent history, but it's a game that never reaches checkmate.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Veteran espionage writer Littell, whose 1973 debut, The Defection of A.J. Lewinter, prompted critics to compare him to such British masters as Eric Ambler and John le Carr , stumbles a bit with his take on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, set in a near, post-George W. Bush future. An unnamed woman, who will remind many of Hillary Clinton, is president of the U.S., while, less plausibly, the Palestinian Authority is led by Arafat's successor, who's also nameless. Given Hamas's electoral victory in early 2006, the plot, which centers on yet another U.S.-brokered effort to create a lasting Middle East peace, has already been overtaken by events. The relationship between a terrorist leader and his hostage, a right-wing rabbi and agitator, may intrigue those who can overlook the dated scenario. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
This boiling cauldron of intrigue takes place in the volatile Holy Land of the near future. When the Arab leader of a terrorist faction kidnaps a rabbi who heads an ultraconservative settlers' group, Israeli security services go on red alert. In adding a smart-alecky American reporter to the mix, Littell (The Company) ratchets up the action to a heart-bursting sprint that stops only for big gulps of violence and torture. What makes this book unforgettable is the extraordinary relationship between kidnapper and victim. Extremists both, they joust with vehement hatred yet are strangely drawn together. Littell's acute portrayal of their inflamed psychological states illuminates an understanding that goes far beyond the day's headlines. For all public libraries where espionage tales populate the reserve lists. Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Suspenseful and serious thriller from Littell (Legends, 2005, etc.) depicts the Middle East as a place in which positions are depressingly circular, behavior remorselessly vicious. Fundamentalist rabbi Isaac Apfulbaum gets himself kidnapped by fundamentalist terrorist Dr. Isma'l al-Shaath, triggering a crisis noteworthy even in that crisis-ridden land. The ensuing demands follow a familiar enough pattern. The Israeli government, it's told, must release scores of Palestinian prisoners. Failure to do so will result in the rabbi's execution. Of course, the deadline is tight. Legendary Mossad spymaster Elihu is called out of retirement because so much hangs in the balance. A peace plan brokered by the US looks as if it might actually succeed. Agreed to by both contending parties, it's scheduled for signing in Washington in just nine days. But every Middle East expert worth the label knows that if the kidnapped rabbi becomes a defunct rabbi, all bets are off. The Israelis will do what's necessary to collect their eye for an eye, and the vengeance cycle will be freshly minted. "We both live by the same creed," a weary and discouraged Elihu says, with some bitterness. "One of them will exact vengeance, then we'll exact vengeance for vengeance." Meanwhile, an unexpected bond is being forged. The rabbi and his captor, both radicals, ferocious religionists and would-be messiahs, have discovered a kindred spirit. If things had been different, the doctor says to the rabbi, "you would have been my brother." But things aren't different, and in the blood-soaked denouement, brotherhood, of course, comes up short. Authoritative, sharply observed, remarkably evenhanded-neither side gets a free passhere-and, as usual, first-rate.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781585678556
  • Publisher: Overlook Press, The
  • Publication date: 10/19/2006
  • Pages: 304
  • Sales rank: 1,084,601
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Littell was born, raised, and educated in New York. A former Newsweek editor specializing in Soviet affairs, he left journalism in 1970 to write fiction full time. Connoisseurs of the spy novel have elevated Robert Littell to the genre's highest ranks, and Tom Clancy wrote that “if Robert Littell didn’t invent the spy novel, he should have.” He is the author of fifteen novels, including the New York Times bestseller The Company and Legends, the 2005 L.A. Times Book Award for Best Thriller/Mystery. He currently lives in France.

Good To Know

About his past, Littell told us, "No account of my education would be complete without mentioning my four years in the Navy; I served on board the USS John R. Pierce (DD753) where I was, variously, the ship’s navigator, antisubmarine warfare officer, communications officer and deck watch officer. These years were extremely formative for me."
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    1. Hometown:
      Martel, France
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 8, 1935
    2. Place of Birth:
      Brooklyn, New York
    1. Education:
      B.A., Alfred University, 1956

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