Three Envelopes by Nir Hezroni delves into the twisted mind of a rogue agent in the Israeli intelligence agency and his mysterious plot for revenge.
The secret to Three Envelopes by Nir Hezroni is: do not trust anyone.
When Avner—a supervising agent for a group known only as the Organization—receives an envelope containing a notebook kept by one of his most notorious field agents, Agent 10483, he knows trouble is not far behind. 10483 was highly unstable. It was almost a blessing when he died ten years ago. Now—with the arrival of this notebook—Avner realizes the psychopathic 10483 might be alive and hunting down members of the Organization.
Three Envelopes is a new, exciting novel from Israeli writer Nir Hezroni. With its international settings, multiple viewpoints, and detailed timeline, this story rewards readers who pay attention to details.
In a world where nothing and no one is what they seem, Hezroni has created a series of characters that are fascinating to follow. And none are more interesting than his centerpiece creation: 10483. His is the only point of view given in first person. The notebook begins when 10483 is a boy and continues through his training and eventual betrayal by the Organization. His story serves as the backbone of the novel, and it’s the reader’s first introduction to the world Hezroni creates.
I walk back to my room and pass by Dad and Mom’s room. They’re asleep. Their breathing is peaceful and deep. They don’t breathe quickly like I do.
Back in my room.
I remove a ruler from my pencil case.
I take quiet steps back to the kitchen.
No one hears me.
I open the fridge door. The light from inside floods the kitchen. I wait for a minute to make sure I haven’t woken Dad or Mom. If they wake up, I’ll say I was thirsty and got up to get cold water from the fridge.
I take the ruler and measure the level of water in all the bottles in the fridge. In one there’s 20 centimeters and 7 millimeters and in the other there’s exactly 15 centimeters. I don’t use a pencil to mark the level of the water on the bottles because Mom tells Dad that’s not appropriate behavior for a child my age or any child at all actually, and it worries her.
I’ll check the level of water in the morning again. That way I’ll know that no one added poison or some other material to the bottles.
Obviously, first person narration always creates a certain skepticism—how can we believe what this person is telling us? Hezroni embraces that element. But, while 10483 is portrayed as, shall we say, questionable, the motivations of other characters are not above suspicion. Avner and Amiram, the recipients of 10483’s notebook, trained the killer. They gave him assignments. In many ways, they are culpable for his violent actions.
Then there’s Carmit. By day, a bookseller. By night, an operative with certain scientific talents that would strike fear into the heart of any government. Her experiments in behavior modification are terrifying when inflicted on mice … let alone men.
The cage contained four white mice. She removed them from the cage one at a time, injected each one with a small amount of the solution, and then put them back in their cage. The mice appeared indifferent to the treatment and started to nibble away at the food Carmit scattered on the floor of the cage for them.
Then she reached for a switch on the wall. The instant the color of the LED lights changed from blue to red, the mice flew at one another in a mad rage, creating a white mass of fur and gnashing jaws. Carmit quickly switched the lights to green and the mice relented scurried away in fear, each one pressing itself into a corner of the cage, trembling uncontrollably. When she changed the color to yellow, the four mice immediately fell asleep.
Considering the Organization’s questionable methodology, the reader begins to wonder if, perhaps, 10483—for all his obviously dangerous and odd behaviors—has really been manipulated by those he considered mentors. Or perhaps his thought patterns have been modified somehow. Or maybe everyone is telling the truth, and he’s 100% behind every mass murder, bombing, and assassination he’s accused of.
But whatever 10483 is—manipulated victim or violent psycho—the Organization and its agents are in trouble.
Told with an eye for detail in every element (science, timeline, and character development), readers who like to put puzzle pieces together will enjoy Three Envelopes. Nir Hezroni’s tale of high-level espionage and international intrigue is an intricate tangle that’s satisfying to unravel.
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Jenny Maloney is a reader and writer in Colorado. Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in 42 Magazine, Shimmer, Skive, and others. She blogs about writing at Notes from Under Ground. If you like to talk books, reading, publishing, movies, or writing, feel free to follow her on Twitter: @JennyEMaloney.
Read all posts by Jenny Maloney for Criminal Element.