Ellis Shuman is no stranger to my blog. You may recall my enthusiastic blog posts about his first work: “Valley of Thracians“. Today I’m delighted to announce his latest release:
“The Burgas Affair”
Publication date: Tomorrow – October 30, 2017
Amazon Universal short-link: http://getBook.at/BurgasAffair
Please scroll down for my review and also some very interesting paragraphs by Ellis about the attack at Burgas Airport in July 2012 and about the release of the book in Bulgarian.
The Burgas Affair
She’s an Israeli data analyst. He’s a headstrong Bulgarian detective. Together they must track down those responsible for a horrific bombing.
In the wake of a deadly terrorist attack at Burgas Airport in Bulgaria, Israeli and Bulgarian intelligence agencies launch a joint investigation. Detective Boyko Stanchev on the police task force teams up with Ayala Navon, a young Israeli intelligence analyst on her first overseas assignment.
The two must establish whether the terrorists were assisted by a Bulgarian crime organization in laying the groundwork for the attack.
It should be a routine investigation, but shadows of the past keep interfering.
Boyko’s interactions with a crime boss pursuing a vendetta against him threaten to throw him off track. Ayala’s pursuit of the terrorists and their accomplices brings up painful memories of a family tragedy.
Boyko and Ayala form a shaky alliance, one that evolves into growing cooperation and affection as they desperately race against time to uncover who was behind the Burgas bombing.
The Burgas Affair is a fictional account of the aftermath of a very real terrorist attack. On July 18, 2012, a deadly explosive rocked a tourist bus at Burgas Airport, killing five Israelis and their Bulgarian bus driver. The terrorists responsible for this murderous attack have never been brought to justice.
I received an advance review copy of this book by the author and gratefully accepted, having tremendously enjoyed his previous work.
This book captures you from the first quick chapter where a woman realises she’ll blow up with a bomb – a harrowing close-up of a victim and a powerful way to introduce the issue of terror attacks and suicide bombers.
Shuman then introduces another layer of the terror attack by showing us two other victims as they prepare for the fatal journey.
Only after having introduced these human elements to the Burgas tragedy does the author switch to the police investigation and the two detectives. But here, also, we’re given two non-stereotypical characters, one from Bulgaria with a complex professional history, and one from Israel, with a more personal history.
In a parallel narrative to that of the investigation we find out more about one detective’s past and begin to suspect that this will have a connection to the terror attack, while the other detective has personal issues to deal with that may interfer with the investigation.
Shuman has put a lot into this novel, there’s plenty of attention to detail and rich layering. The bombing is after all a sensitive subject and the author has handled it with delicacy and care. While the incident is fictionalised, the novel is based on police reports and therefore stays close to what we know.
Shuman stays away from outrageous or sensationalist speculation and keeps a realistic and plausible tone. This level and thoughtful approach, combined with well-chosen characters and backstories really resonated with me. There’s plenty of suspense, tension and action to please thriller fans, but it doesn’t go over the top as so many others do. The detectives aren’t super human and because of this, far more interesting and spell binding.
Most importantly, the real life Burgas bombing is a to-date unsolved case and I’m grateful that it wasn’t hijacked for an exploitative treatment in the novel, but instead used respectfully as a setting that allows the author to portray the many dimensions of terror attacks.
Having once lived in Bulgaria, Shuman adds a lot of fascinating facts about the country with descriptive detail. This is a very engaging and thought-provoking read, a gripping thriller and a multi-layered read that I would highly recommend.
Ellis Shuman was born in Sioux City, Iowa, and immigrated to Israel as a teenager. He completed high school in Jerusalem and served for three years in the Israeli army. Along with his wife, Jodie, he was a founding member of Kibbutz Yahel. After working for several years in the hotel industry, he today writes and edits online marketing content. In the years 2009 – 2010, his job was relocated to Sofia, Bulgaria. His writing has appeared in The Times of Israel, The Huffington Post, The Jerusalem Post, Israel Insider, and on a wide range of Internet websites. His collection of short stories, The Virtual Kibbutz, was originally published in 2003. His novel Valley of Thracians was published in 2013. Ellis lives with his wife, children, and grandchildren on Moshav Neve Ilan, outside Jerusalem.
Ellis writes about Bulgaria, Israel, books, travel, and the craft of writing on his blog:
Ellis Shuman Writes
Ellis Shuman on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ellisshumanauthor
Ellis Shuman on Twitter: https://twitter.com/ellisshuman
Ellis Shuman on Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1529444.Ellis_Shuman
The Burgas Affair was originally published in Bulgarian!
The Burgas Affair was traditionally published in May 2016 by Ciela, the leading publisher in Bulgaria. The book was presented at a book signing event in Sofia in June 2016.
How did this come about? After living in Bulgaria for two years, I had established connections with Bulgarian authors and publishers. In addition, an article I wrote for the Huffington Post entitled “10 Amazing Things You Didn’t Know about Bulgaria” in August 2014 generated huge interest, especially in Bulgaria, gaining over 27,000 Facebook likes. The article was translated into Bulgarian three times!
A year after selling the Bulgarian language rights to The Burgas Affair, I decided to self-publish the novel in its original English version. The book will be published in a digital edition on October 30, 2017. A paperback edition will follow.
My feelings about the attack at Burgas Airport in July 2012
My wife and I lived in Sofia for two years (2009–2010) when my job was relocated to Bulgaria. I had never previously visited Bulgaria and quite honestly, it was not on my bucket list of travel destinations. Alongside working full-time, we utilized our weekends to explore the country. We were fascinated by Bulgaria’s history and culture, and fell in love with its nature and picturesque villages.
The terrorist bombing at Burgas Airport in July 2012 took me by surprise because I never expected that such an attack could occur on Bulgarian soil. Having grown up in Israel, I was unfortunately quite familiar with the horror of suicide bombings and explosions on buses. Israelis are very security-conscious, but Bulgaria, I believed, was supposed to be safe territory. And also, I had been to Burgas Airport so I could clearly picture where the bombing took place.
I couldn’t stop thinking about the attack. The Bulgarian government issued contradictory announcements regarding Hezbollah’s involvement. Although the terrorists were later identified by name and nationality, no one was ever brought to justice. It was reported that the Hezbollah mastermind who orchestrated the bombing may have been killed in Lebanon.
The more the events raced through my head, the more my creative mind kept coming up with plot lines and characters, a process that led to my writing The Burgas Affair.
In the novel, many of the details of the bombing as well as the names of the suspects are based on information released to the media. However, the joint Bulgarian-Israeli investigation, the leads investigated, the suspected collaboration between Hezbollah and a Bulgarian crime organization, and the characters are all figments of my imagination.
The Burgas bombing was a very real, deadly terrorist attack. Six people were murdered—five Israelis and one Bulgarian—and many others were injured. I hope that my fictitious description of the victims is not considered disrespectful by their families. With that in mind, I dedicate The Burgas Affair to them.