THIS IS NO UTOPIA…
1996. Northern Israel. Lola leaves an unhappy home life in England for the fabled utopian life of a kibbutz, but this heavily guarded farming community on the Arab-Israeli border isn’t the idyll it seems, and tensions are festering.
Hundreds of miles away, in the Jerusalem offices of the International Tribune newspaper, all eyes are on Israel’s response to a spate of rocket attacks from Lebanon, until cub reporter Jonny Murphy gets a tip from a mysterious source that sends him straight into the danger zone.
When the body of an Arab worker is discovered in the dirt of the kibbutz chicken house, it triggers a series of events that puts Lola and the whole community in jeopardy, and Jonny begins to uncover a series of secrets that put everything at risk, as he starts to realise just how far some people will go to belong…
Sarah Sultoon is a journalist and writer, whose work as an international news executive at CNN has taken her all over the world, from the seats of power in both Westminster and Washington to the frontlines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Of Jewish and Indian descent, she has extensive experience in conflict zones, winning three Peabody awards for her work on the war in Syria, an Emmy for her contribution to the coverage of Europe’s migrant crisis in 2015, and a number of Royal Television Society gongs. When not reading or writing she can usually be found somewhere outside, either running, swimming or throwing a ball for her three children and dog while she imagines what might happen if… Her debut thriller The Source is currently in production with Lime Pictures, was shortlisted for the CWA John Creasey New Blood Dagger, won the Crime Fiction Lover Debut Thriller Award, was a Capital Crime Book Club pick and a number-one bestseller on Kindle.
My thoughts: my mum stayed on a kibbutz many years ago (she was a teenager) with her Israeli friend and the most outrageous thing was the fact that a man called Jesus used to do the washing up in the nude! She worked in the kitchens and claims the worst bit was the early mornings. No terrible murders there.
But the kibbutz at the heart of the cracking read is riddled with secrets, lies and death. Not exactly the utopia community that the media tries to portray them as to lure in volunteers. Lola is a Londoner, a gentile, the ultimate outsider here, but she has secrets too and they might just be dangerous. Johnny Murphy’s mother was Israeli, his father Irish, and they met on the kibbutz. But a chance to blow open the murder in the International Tribune and stake his journalistic career means he’s there too, trying to find out what’s going on.
The closed community, the claustrophobia of sharing living spaces with strangers, the isolation of this particular kibbutz, the proximity of the border with Lebanon, all serve to heighten the tension as events spiral and paranoia grows. Really, really good stuff.
*I was kindly gifted a copy of this book in exchange for taking part in the blog tour but all opinions remain my own.