To say that Death In Shangri-La is a cliffhanger is an understatement. Set in the unforgiving, breathtaking landscape of Kashmir and the Himalayas, this new thriller by travel writer and television host Yigal Zur is an exciting trip to a rarely explored corner of the world.
Dotan Naor is a former Israeli security agent who has gone into business as a private investigator. In Death In Shangri-La, the first in a series, Naor goes looking for Itiel, an arms merchant’s son who has disappeared into the Himalayas. It’s not just a simple case of a missing person: the area is peppered with terrorist groups who hunt down groups of young Israelis. Although the missing son may have vanished into one of the region’s ashrams, he could be a hostage—and a valuable one, at that. Naor worms his way into the dangerous region, unraveling a mystery that pushes the tension higher with every chapter.
Language and landscape are key in Death in Shangri-La. Translated from Hebrew by Sara Kitai, the novel is lush and cinematic in scope. Zur’s familiarity with Southeast Asia and the region around Nepal brings this hardboiled novel to life, creating a vibrant, high-risk backdrop for Naor’s mission.
Zur, also a former journalist, is a fearless writer. Death in Shangri-La is stuffed with details yet spare: Zur sticks with tropes that are worthy of the best noir. At its core, this is a powerfully told detective story set in one of the most beautiful and deadly places on earth.
Yigal Zur’s new Dotan Naor series is off to a strong start with this intense, politically conscious thriller.
Reviewed by Claire Foster