ORANIT: CROSSED LINES – MICHAEL BENJAMIN

Fiction that doesn’t hide the pain of the past” – JoJo Maxson

Israelis and Palestinians cooperate to make a difficult situation worse

Good people, doing bad things for the best of reasons

A complex murder investigation of a complicated set of murders starts when an Arab collaborator’s body is found by a collapsed wall in the new Israeli settlement of Oranit. His death is hushed up and the body burned by the Palestinian villagers who hated him.

Two years later his death is all but forgotten until a bullet is found by a wall, and everything changes. Old speculations of foul play are confirmed, and the collaborator’s death becomes a murder case.

Formerly a member of Israeli military field security, Oranit resident Jeannie now works for the Shin Bet Security Service. She’s given the dubious task of “putting the case to rest again.” Delving into the circumstances surrounding the Arab’s death, Jeannie discovers a hidden world of smuggling, forgery and other doubtful activities tied to minor politicians and founding members of the Oranit settlement. Everyone, including Jeannie’s own father, seems to be a suspect.

As Jeannie uncovers the truth, she’ll never see Oranit in quite the same way.

˃˃˃ An intriguing plot

Author and retired Israeli army psychiatrist Michael I. Benjamin weaves an entertaining and occasionally humorous murder mystery through the tangled politics and racial tension of the Green Line, the Yom Kippur War, and the Holocaust. The characters are complex, yet real. Intrigue weaves its thread through the very fabric of the book. As the murder is solved deeper issues are highlighted and come into play.

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“Fascinating novel that weaves an entertaining and occasionally humorous murder mystery through the tangled politics and racial tension of the Green Line, the Yom Kippur War, and the Holocaust.” – Grady Harp

About the Author

Born in Leeds, England, during WWII to parents who were first-generation refugees, Michael Benjamin was educated in both England and Scotland and graduated with an MBChB and BSc. in medicine physiology from the University of Aberdeen.  Michael immigrated to Israel in 1969.
Michael completed his training as a Psychiatrist and Psychotherapist in Israel.  For many years he worked in the field of Mental Health as an administrator, planner and initiator of services, auditor and a recognized danger assessor. He has been engrossed by and active in both soccer and politics, both at a local and national level.

Michael was a founder member of Oranit, he played a crucial role in establishing the village and creating the local council. He served in the Israeli Defence for some length of time, reaching the rank of Major and saw active wartime duty when he treated Shell Shocked patients.
His first novel, Oranit: Crossed Lines was published in June 2015. His second book, Oranit 2: Sins and Lovers followed a year later. Bloodlines is to be published shortly.

Michael is married to Pat, and the couple have three children and five grandchildren (to date).

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Excellent portrayal of deeply traumatized persons in a variously, but almost constantly, unstable environment” – John H Manhold

Excerpt

Braving the monsoon, they climbed into the gigantic earth-leveller parked outside. It was only then Jeannie realised they were not alone, and she felt a wee bit startled. Whoever was there had been hidden by the rain and condensation on the vehicle’s window. She saw a dark shadow moving and identified it as a man, young, drenched, and shivering. When he entered the cab, it became apparent that he was the Arab youth working with Mahmud, fixing things around the village. She assumed Mitch must be taking him along to have a look at the wall. This was usually Mahmud’s job. Maybe Mahmud had disappeared, again, as was his want. Mahmud was sometimes asked if he was really an Aborigine, so famed were his ‘walkabouts’, when he would disappear for weeks into the outback, usually when he was most needed, or when something eminently saleable had disappeared. He always reappeared as if nothing had happened.

Jeannie pointed at the nameless young Arab who had by then acquired a small pool around him from the fallen rain. ‘Who’s that, Mitch? Don’t tell me you have upgraded Mahmud? I hope this version is more user-friendly.’

‘Looks that way, thank God’ was Mitch’s answer. ‘Mind you, he’s from Mahmud’s village. Our very own Prince of Arabia has disappeared yet again. The do-it-yourself Houdini has made himself invisible again. Not that I’m surprised. The PLO has put a hefty price for him, dead or deader. They were very annoyed at the damage he did to one of their officer’s hands. Bloody jokers that they are, the only thing they’ve learned from us is chutzpah. It wasn’t Mahmud’s fault the gun exploded when the PLO was trying to shoot him. But you know the PLO, faultless to a fault. Good job they didn’t blame us for letting them steal a faulty gun.’

The rain drummed on the cab roof and hurled itself at the windscreen. The large windscreen wiper seemed to be the only thing coping well. The grader slithered and bumped out of the village centre, along Oranit’s main road. The palm trees swayed dangerously in the storm. Here and there, branches had fallen on or near the high power lines. The storm increased in fury as they approached the wall by the school.

There was an enormous bang, and all three occupants of the cab jumped in momentary shock. A few rocks fell, one bouncing off the cab roof. So did something softer. Jeannie thought it was earth.

‘Get the hell out of here!’ was all Jeannie could manage.

She and Mitch were amazed at her profanity, but it was immediately forgiven and forgotten. Mitch’s foot had reacted faster than her mouth. The vehicle swayed in the wind, skidding on the mud and bumping over the projectiles that had hit them. Fifty yards down the road, they got into a sheltered part of the wadi, and they stopped.

Mitch got out. Jeannie heard ‘Oh no . . . that can’t be.’

He put one hand on the huge front wheel to support himself as his legs crumbled. The young Arab guy got out. Jeannie heard a stream of Arabic, as the boy babbled into his cellphone. Jeannie thought she recognised one word. She got down – and now she recognised more than one word. To be more precise, she recognised not only Mahmud’s name but Mahmud himself. A broken rag doll version of Mahmud. Dead.

Michael Benjamin does a great job describing Arab-Palastinean history in this crime thriller!  I highly recommend Oranit: Crossed Lines to anyone who likes a good hystorical mystery!” – Kristin Schwab

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An engrossing and thrilling book” – Simón Gómez

 

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