Book Title: The Poisoner’s Agenda: Jerusalem 3,000
Author: Olivia Rodan Jacobs
Publisher: Outskirts Press (August 16, 2010)
Link to purchase
Reviewer: Vonnie Faroqui for WITS
The Poisoner's Agenda, written under the name Olivia Rodan Jacobs, is an exciting tale of murder and espionage. The story is set in 1996, during the year marking Israel's 3,000 year claim on Jerusalem as the center of Jewish religious and political life. The author uses the contention and the heated religious and political differences of the time to creative advantage, treating the political and religious tumult of the Middle East with care and a measure of generosity.
Jacobs draws extensively from her own experiences of living and working in Israel to cultivate her plot. Characters feel well placed within the story, coming alive in a world that is deeply textured and realistic. All the characters including the terrorist have been given interesting and well thought out back-stories that drive their choices in a realistic manner, true to individual culture, heritage, and religious affiliation. The political and personal motives of the terrorist are woven into the story, as are those of the other main characters. Although I did not find the poisoner's character to be a sympathetic one, I did find his back story illuminating and was able to empathize with his personal story in a way that made me appreciate the book on a level I had not anticipated.
I found much in this book surprising. As a historical fiction the book is educational and relevant. As a murder mystery the focus for the reader is not on discovering who the murderer is, but on discovering the how and why, with clues dispersed throughout for reader speculation and gratification. The Poisoner's Agenda is the most effective as an espionage thriller, being quite exciting.
While I was reading I was surprised by the volume of information and historical content relayed. There was much concerning the Middle East conflict which I was previously unaware of. I found myself checking information and historical references. The author seems to have researched the historical data well.
I found The Poisoner's Agenda to be fascinating on many levels . It is wonderful book, especially for those who enjoy spy stories or who are interested in the Middle East from a historical perspective.