Author: Leonard Di Gregorio
Genre: Political thriller / Action and Adventure
An ordinary evening between Moshe Kaplan and his partner Holly is interrupted by a frantic call from Israel: his father had been taken to the hospital after being shot by an unknown perpetrator, a casualty of a plot that is suspected to be centered around Moshe himself. The journey back to his country of origin will force him to reckon not just with his past but also its implications for his future, all while trying to stave off a deadly terrorist attack.
Set in a country with a long history of transition, Rage takes readers through the twists and turns that is the hallmark of the political thriller genre, all while giving the sense that the author is aware and perhaps drawing inspiration from the turmoil currently affecting Israel and its neighbors. Weaving a work of fiction around real-life events can sometimes present a challenge for authors, but this book struck the right balance of research, accuracy, and creative license. It felt just authentic enough to be immersive, while never straying too far from the bounds of fiction.
The setting is rich and lush, in part because Israel itself is already an exotic enough location. However, the author adds to this by grounding the readers in each scene using vivid imagery and savvy writing technique. Specific details such as minarets and the call to prayer of a nearby mosque, the rich aroma of Levant coffee, the dry heat of a Tel Aviv evening, the sensation of rich fabric on a person’s skin—all of these heighten the reading experience by allowing us to transport ourselves right into the heart of the story.
The pacing of the narrative could have been more even. Moshe’s past was introduced through a plot device—a conversation during a reunion of sorts—rather than being organically and gradually unveiled throughout the story, which would have amplified the tension that was already brewing. More foreshadowing in the first half of the book would have ensured a strong connection to its second half, rather than making them feel like two separate stories. However, the strength of the premise and the writing itself carried the book through these relatively minor bumps.
At the end of the day, Leonard Di Gregorio ensured the readers’ full investment in Moshe’s journey by upping the emotional stakes and turning the book from just another thriller into one that is also relatable at a basic human level. For example, the villain of the story was not just motivated by an ideology or a glorified view of power. He was out to avenge someone he loved. This turned him into a complex character whose actions were not purely black and white, and it’s the shades of grey in between that make him, and the story, immensely readable.
It also helped that the bigger picture of saving a city and to an extent, an entire county, did not come at the expense of exploring the relationships between the main character and those around him. The banter and camaraderie between Moshe and his team added a much-needed sense of comedic relief in what was otherwise a very serious book. The concept of acceptance and the challenges faced by an interracial couple is also weaved throughout the narrative, making it not only relevant but also significant in the race-based sentiment of today’s society.
Fast-paced and exciting, Rage will take readers along with Moshe Kaplan and his team through the alleys and streets of Tel Aviv in the ultimate race against time to save the people and the city they love. It is both an allusion and a commentary on the effects of violence on the lives of innocent people, carefully reminding readers of what truly matters amidst the explosion of anger, fear, and violence. A classic political thriller, it will grip fans of the genre and keep them turning the pages until the final punctuation.
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