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…
Hi and welcome to my review of Dirt!
To be perfectly honest: ever since reading her debut The Source, I always start a book by Sarah Sultoon feeling a weird mix of excitement and something akin to trepidation. The former because the premise sounds ace and I know she’ll deliver. The latter because I know it’ll pack a punch and there is no way it will be an easy read. Dirt proved me right on both counts.
Dirt is told from the perspective of Lola and Jonny. The year is 1996 and Lola has swapped her boring, unhappy life in England for a life as a volunteer in an Israelian kibbutz where she works in a banana field from dawn to dusk. Jonny is a wet-behind-the-ears journalist working for the International Tribune in Jerusalem. Their paths collide when Jonny visits the kibbutz after receiving a tip that there is more to the place than meets the eye.
What ensues is a riveting but intricate tale that did require my full attention, and even though I was glued to the pages, I’m not entirely sure I fully grasped all the details and intricacies, this is really a book I will need to reread to see what I might have missed.
Against a backdrop of political unrest and military conflict, Dirt tells the story of people who are rather conflicted themselves and who are trying to get their issues resolved, one way or another. Life at the kibbutz might seem idyllic, but appearances can be deceiving and any place in the world is only as good or as flawed as its habitants.
Dirt is a hard-hitting and suspenseful political / war / crime / domestic thriller / drama that had my little grey cells and my heart working overtime. It has so many elements that could clash horribly but don’t because of the manner in which they are woven together. The final chapters are chock full of reveals, a house of cards tumbling down allowing the pieces of the puzzle to fall into place. I lost count of the number of times I gasped.
If you enjoy intelligent multi-layered thrillers, Dirt is one to put at the top of your wish list.
Dirt is out on 19 January 2023 in paperback and digital formats. Pre-order directly from Orenda Books here.
Massive thanks to Orenda Books for the eARC. All opinions are my own.