Hi and welcome to FromBelgiumWithBookLove where it is my absolute pleasure to share with you an excerpt from Dirt! Check out my review here if you missed it the first time around, but the long and short of it is that Dirt is a hard-hitting and suspenseful political / war / crime / domestic thriller / drama that had my little grey cells and my heart working overtime and if you enjoy intelligent multi-layered thrillers, Dirt is not to be missed!
Many thanks to Anne Cater for having me on the tour, and to Orenda Books for the excerpt.
Let’s have a quick look at the blurb first:
A compulsive, searing political thriller set on a kibbutz in Northern Israel, where the discovery of the body of an Israeli-Arab worker sets off a devastating chain of events…
Belonging could cost everything…
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 begins to realise just how far some people will go to belong…
Right! Ready? Let’s go see what Jonny, junior reporter at International Tribune in Jerusalem, is up to:
Jonny’s hand stills on the receiver as the newsroom suddenly explodes with activity. Everyone else’s phones are ringing off the hook. The bank of televisions mounted on the wall overhead all flash up the same sickening image, increasingly familiar – a plume of acrid smoke rising from deep inside a heavily populated residential area.
Jonny has to take a minute to make sense of the Hebrew letters bannered across the bottom of each screen, but Allen is already shouting their meaning out, back at their workstation in a flash, a phone pressed to each ear.
There’s been another rocket attack in the north.
Jonny hunches forward again, stares at his map as he listens to Allen. One missile has apparently destroyed a house on the outskirts of the port of Akko. Beautiful, ancient Akko … that’s pretty far down the coast for a rocket launched from southern Lebanon, he thinks, straining to pick out details in the rapid-fire Hebrew ricocheting all around him.
Three injured, mercifully no dead. And all Arab Israelis too … not the look the Hezbollah will have been going for.
He stands up, tries to get Allen’s attention, but the conversation is still moving too fast. The Trib’s reporting team are already ontheir way to the scene, heading straight from their base in thenorthern city of Haifa. What on earth were they still doing at theirhotel? Having a leisurely breakfast? Smoking their way throughan entire shisha pipe? They aren’t up in Haifa for the view!
Now Allen starts deploying a volley of swearwords. Enough with the excuses now, come on. Don’t we have anyone who can get there any faster? Is the whole team planning to walk? It doesnot take that long to get from Haifa to Akko!
‘Jonny.’ He jumps, Allen switching back to English to instruct him too from over the wall. ‘Where are we on the statistics? We need this latest attack included for the next edition. Annotated map, attack radius, total number of injuries, you know the drill.’
He snaps into action, flipping open his notebook, calculating as he scribbles. These latest injuries are to Arab Israelis. Jonny knows more partisan newsrooms might already be arguing over whether they should be included in the overall toll. The decade that started with the peace treaties is rapidly spinning out of control. These latest attacks are pushing even the simplest of calculations to the brink. But Arab Israelis hold full citizenship and serve in the Israel Defence Forces. There is no question in Jonny’s mind. And he knows there is no question in Allen’s either.
Still his pencil pauses as he considers this. Just the fact that it has started to become a question at all is a terrifying indication of what might lie ahead.
Jonny only realises he has slipped into reverie when he registers the shrill ring of a phone is actually coming from the one on his desk. He swaps pencil for receiver, hand stilling on the black plastic when he sees the incoming number and realises who is returning his call. His heart, having stood still at the sight of those treasured few digits, resumes operations with a thump. He only needs to listen rather than talk for two minutes before replacing the handset with a soft click, brow furrowing at both the map in his eyeline, and the unexpected new nugget of information slowly turning over inside his head.
Ready for more? You’re in luck: Dirt is out today in paperback and digital formats! Happy publication day to Sarah Sultoon 🥂🥳 Order directly from Orenda Books here.