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Israel’s most closely-guarded secret: “The Watchman’s File” (an installment)

I invite you to read another installment from my new mystery novel, “The Watchman’s File”, about the U.S. and Israel’s most closely-guarded secret. (It’s not the bomb). The book is available in paperback and Kindle format at Amazon.

Chapter 1  


Dov Ben-David cursed as he strode down the hill at Ein Gedi. He’d been looking forward to an afternoon at home on the kibbutz when the call came. It was Hannah Ginsberg at the kibbutz’s spa, a quarter mile away by the turgid, gunmetal waters of the Dead Sea. The computer had crashed–again.

“So? Reboot,” said Dov.

“I did. Still doesn’t work.”

“What about Schmuel?”

“In Beersheba.”

Son of a bitch. The entire spa paralyzed because of a Paleolithic computer and a klutzy manager. So here he was: Dov Ben-David, the former deputy director of Israel’s feared Mossad, the man responsible for liquidating anyone who posed a mortal threat to the Jewish State—from Palestinian terrorists to Iranian nuclear scientists—here he was, turning his day upside down to deal with a problem a ten-year-old child could fix. But not Hannah Ginsberg. She’d drown in a saucer of tea.

Dov was a tall, lanky man, with great bushy eyebrows and dark, penetrating eyes; seventy-two years old, sinewy, and fit. He wore khaki shorts, sandals, and a tattered straw hat to shield his balding head. It was hot, bloody hot: perspiration was already coursing down his ruddy face. He should be at home, napping, before undertaking his daily afternoon of writing and research on one or another arcane topic of ancient Israeli archaeology.

What better counterpoint to a life dedicated to duplicity and death? Since his first years at  Ein Gedi, Dov had become obsessed with deciphering the past. Now, in retirement, he could spend all the time he wanted exploring the ancient ruins, caves, and crevices on the Israeli side of the rift valley that had been home to man for the past four thousand years. In a moment of weakness, he had also agreed to use his once-feared organizational skills to help run Ein Gedi’s Dead Sea Spa. That, he now knew, was a major mistake. He’d resign at the end of the year.

He walked into the coffee shop, glared at Hannah Ginsberg, and headed for the computer at the cashier’s desk. Hannah shrugged, brought him a cup of tea, and then went back to wiping off the countertop. Avram Levy, the graying, pudgy kibbutz security guard, was at the food counter concentrating on his daily crossword puzzle. Three tables were filled with French tourists having an early afternoon snack.

Dov took a seat at the cashier’s desk and glowered at the computer: an ancient, hulking IBM, an embarrassing relic. The kibbutz could never seem to find the money to buy a new one. Dov waited while it rebooted. It was like watching the tide come in.

Hopefully, he might still have an hour or so back at home before the American reporter arrived, a chance to shower, collect his thoughts. He was surprised at how rattled he’d been by the news. Was it age? Not at all. His mind was still fit. He’d had to deal with all kinds of alarming information during his long clandestine career. But he knew when to push the panic button, and he knew it was now.

The potential for disaster was far too fearsome to be ignored—and still he had hesitated. This was perilous ground. Let someone else act this time. He had spent too much of his life risking his skin for his country. Why put himself on the line again?

Essentially, because he had no choice: he alone understood the danger. The consequences could be catastrophic—for Israel and the United States.

He’d considered his options. He could alert old Israeli contacts; he had an impressive network. But no, that wouldn’t do. He had to reach out further for allies. He had to totally destroy the threat.

So he’d made the call.

The reporter would be here in a couple of hours.

Together they would expose the entire story to the world.

He vaguely saw the silver van come to a stop in the no parking zone next to the entrance to the spa. A young Arab-looking kid in jeans and a T-shirt got out and walked quickly away. A bit too quickly. “Avram,” said Dov, ”Why don’t you check out the van.”

He turned his attention back to the computer, but when there was no acknowledgement from the security guard, he looked up again to see the men’s room door swinging shut. He glanced towards the window again.

Suddenly there was a blinding flash.

He swore aloud, but his words were lost in a deafening blast that shattered the plate glass window before him.

He saw the silver van disintegrating as it hurtled toward him, and then there was nothing more to see.

A giant claw ripped at his throat and lifted his body into the air, slowly, as if in a dream.


Other excerpts are available at my site:

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Barry Lando

Barry Lando

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