REVIEW and EXCERPT
(Zach Miller Thrillers Book 1)
(Zach Miller Thrillers Book 1)
by Dennis A. Nehamen
Mistaken Enemy is the first book in the Zach Miller Thrillers by Dennis A. Nehamen. Also available: Insatiable Hate.
Controversial, bold, compelling.
A story exploring both sides of fate.
A story exploring both sides of fate.
Free-lance writer Zach Miller doesn’t mind going the extra mile for a good story, but 7,500 miles is a bit more than he bargained for. Nevertheless, when his closest friend fortuitously points the way to Israel, reluctantly he goes.
In the caldron of intrigue, politics, and terrorism that is the modern Middle East, Zach uncovers a plot - one that potentially threatens the lives of perhaps millions. His problem? There are two sides to every coin, and at least two sides in every war. But in this kind of conflict, information is a commodity, and misinformation, a weapon. Zach might be the unexpected emissary, the man with an answer, but sadly, neither side trusts him. Worse still, both sides will do anything in their power to stop him.
Far from home, in a strange and at times incomprehensible land, Zach has no resources other than his own ingenuity … and a desire to be on the side of truth. That might be too tall an order in an encounter where both combatants are dead certain that there is only one truth: theirs.
Mistaken Enemy, the first of the Zach Miller Thrillers, is a heart-racing account of hate, revenge and destiny, ultimately testing the boundaries of human love and will.
“I’m sorry. I’ll always think of you as my brother.”
Those are the last words I recall him saying.
As I lay naked, shivering on the hot dirt floor, I struggled with an awareness that must have taken a bullet. The whirling fogginess was deadening to my senses.
Then in a flash my mind’s eye blinked, exhibiting for me a panoramic view of all the events that had transpired to land me…in Hell.
I hadn’t betrayed him…but I had planned to.
Chapter 1: The Take Off
El Al Flight 318 to Israel. The announcement sounded like a warning.
Israel? Why in the world was I going?
All I could think of was a hard right turn.
Next I was seven hundred fifty miles from where I intended to shop for groceries.
Finally I was waiting to journey another six thousand miles from my intended destination.
El Al Flight 318 to Israel, the loud speaker pledged for the second time as I apathetically hoisted my carry on bag to enter the plane.
I had a stressful evening before leaving, waking numerous times. Thus, the first leg of my trip, from L.A. to New York, was devoted to catching up on sleep, to which I surrendered much more freely than the night before. The flight zipped by in an instant.
My plan was to relax, enjoy some reading during the second phase of the journey. But first, it seemed I would have to dispose of the pesky neighbor seated next to me who, immediately after takeoff, initiated a one-way conversation regarding his pursuit of a career in Israel as an actor, playwright, director, producer, musical book writer…time for a second snooze.
After bragging up the fame he imagined, he finally shamed me into agreeing to listen to one of his creations, a musical with an uninspiring story line of adolescent love gone sour, with characters arousing as much excitement as the periodic table of the elements in a high school chemistry class.
“Amir Hamdallah,” he introduced himself like a celebration after I dutifully complemented his work.
While I had to conclude he would be a bust as an artist, I could imagine him enjoying success as a lady-killer. His black hair was styled into three distinct sections. The longest was on the crown, but still, what most would call short. Trimmed ever so slightly closer was a goatee of matching color. Finally, since he appeared not to have shaved for a couple days, his face was darkly shaded, an intentional act to create the impression of a rugged, untamed man.
“Wish me luck.”
“Oh, of course. I’m sure I’ll be boasting soon to all my friends that I sat next to you on a plane ride to Israel,” I assured him as I took note of his impeccable dress.
His white linen shirt was perfectly laundered, as were the tan casual slacks. On his feet he wore what looked like expensive, burgundy-colored leather loafers. When he returned from a bathroom visit and was about to sit back next to me, three pieces of jewelry he had been wearing commanded my attention—a gold watch with a black leather band, the dial reading Patek Philippe; a large diamond stud in his earlobe, which, judging from the rest of his apparel I assumed was not a cubic zirconia; and a good-sized silver ring with several small sapphires on the middle finger of his left hand.
Our conversation lasted through the entire flight, at times Amir entertaining me with impromptu comical skits; on one occasion he nearly had me laughing.
“Why are you visiting Israel?” he asked, his first probe to find out something about me.
I smiled coyly. “That’s the same question I keep asking myself.”
“I’m sure you’ll figure it out,” Amir assured me. “Now, where do you plan to go first?”
“I really have no specific itinerary,” I replied, puzzling over the fact that I hadn’t even considered his question.
My new buddy proved quite helpful. After a brief historical discourse on the country, he drew up a plan for nearly the first week of my journey. I would spend a couple of days resting in Tel Aviv. Then I would make my way to Haifa, after which I would go to the Golan Heights, before finally looping back to Jerusalem. Then he informed me that he would be leaving immediately for a trip out of the country but he would be insulted if I didn’t come visit him at his home, located just outside Jerusalem.
As the plane veered off the runway, we exchanged numbers. Then, inside the terminal Amir stopped to bestow a grand smile and substantial double hug on me, thanking me for making his trip a pleasant one and expressing how joyous it would be to meet me again soon.
We went our separate ways; no doubt both assuming it would be the last we would ever see of one another.
Praise for the Book
Finalist--Fiction/Political Thriller ~ National Indie Excellence Awards
Award-Winning Finalist in Fiction: General ~ USA Best Book Awards
"Nehamen maintains the thriller's pace through believable dialogue, short paragraphs, chapter-ending cliffhangers and by weaving in relevant background information on the Arab-Israeli conflict ... similar to those terrorist-themed TV dramas like 24 or Homeland, the prison torture scenes are especially convincing and lifelike. Zach's snappy narration - 'I'm excited! I'm also a damn fool' - enlivens the story ... riveting, ripped-from-the headlines suspense novel." ~ Kirkus Reviews
"Readers not usually interested in political thrillers will find Mistaken Enemy uniquely gripping and nearly impossible to put down, from its intriguing introduction to its masterful method of personalizing politics. Mistaken Enemy features the rare ability to juggle a myriad of plots and subplots to become a real winner. It's a standout in the world of either political novels or thrillers, and is highly recommended as a captivating read." ~ D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer, Midwest Book Review
"I enjoyed spending time with Zach since he is three-dimensional, highly intelligent, observant, and expresses himself in an interesting and entertaining manner. The plot is enough to keep pages turning and I believe readers will want to read more books featuring Zach. 5 out of 5 on Structure, Organization, and Pacing; Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar; Plot and Story Appeal; Character Appeal and Development; and, Voice and Writing Style." ~ Readers Digest Book Awards
"Mistaken Enemy is an intriguing and carefully drawn work that moves at breakneck speed, with early hints that unfold in a series of surprising ways. The novel does not waste words, but instead features a first-person narrator with a distinctive, colloquial, and dramatic voice. It is heavy on action rather than description, from its teaser of a prologue through to Zach's eventual imprisonment. Mistaken Enemy is a smart thriller from a talented voice ... perfect for thriller readers looking for quick scenes and multiple moving parts." ~ Foreword Reviews
"A compelling thriller linking secret operations, deception, revenge and murderous plans! With its quick witted dialogue and storyline that delves deep into the complex world of Israeli-Palestinian politics, Nehamen has crafted a suspenseful and intriguing thriller, filled with revenge, buried family secrets, deception and dastardly intent. With his extensive background in forensic and clinical psychology, Nehamen brings realistic understanding and insights into his characters' motivations and intents to this incredible story that rings both outlandish and credible. His descriptions of Zach's feelings and reactions while imprisoned or in traumatic situations are particularly strong. Zach is also an interesting protagonist who is full of curiosity and has a very adventurous spirit. His views are apolitical and non-religious at the start but as the story develops, his character grows considerably in the story, yet he is still young enough to have lots of room to grow in future books. Thriller fans will find there are more than enough surprising twists and amazing revelations to make for a very interesting story from a new author with the promise of more to come! The implications of the story about what fanatics will consider on both sides in this story will reverberate in your mind long after you finish this dramatic story! Enjoy!" ~ FreshFiction
By Lynda Dickson
Zacchaeus Miller is a novelist traveling to Israel for the first time, for reasons that are not immediately revealed. On the plane, he sits next to Amir Hamdallah, who engages Zach in conversation and invites him to visit during his stay. After a few days, Zach decides on a whim to take up Amir's invitation. The Hamdallahs welcome him into their home, where he is introduced to the Arabic lifestyle and meets Amir's sister Bahlya, with whom he becomes smitten. Amir and Bahlya are vocally pro-Palestinian and try to educate Zach about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. But do they have a more sinister game plan in mind? What Zach uncovers is a plan even more devious than he could ever imagine. But is he too late to stop it?
This tale full of politics and intrigue is set against the backdrop of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and cleverly demonstrates that there are two sides to every story. Throughout his narrative, Zach foreshadows events to come, leaving us with a sense of foreboding. His wry sense of humor stays with him throughout his ordeal and may be the only thing keeping him sane. The author's literary style of writing is detached and doesn't provoke an immediate emotional response from the reader to Zach's situation. However, it becomes apparent that Zach is relating his tale after the event, removing the immediacy normally present in a page-turning thriller. This is not your typical thriller; it is more literary fiction and political commentary, with a dose of family drama and a hint of romance. And Dennis Nehamen can actually write, weaving rich imagery, imaginative metaphors, and thought-provoking insights into his story.
I'm interested to see where Zach future adventures take him - and us.
"I had to hide the books, but I imbibed them with the thirst a drunk has for alcohol." ~ Kaye Miller to her son, Zach Miller
From the Author
During the writing of Mistaken Enemy, the first of my Zach Miller Thriller books, a deviation from the initial conception of the story took place. It was conscious and deliberate on my part and while it does not significantly alter the work, it is worthy of highlighting in that this theme subtly threads its way through the novel, and in fact I believe stitches all of the books in the series together.
It has to do with what is now a subtle emphasis on fate and destiny. That in and of itself is not particularly earth moving, but what does deserve attention is the fact that Mistaken Enemy was inspired by a young boy. He was a client of mine early on in my practice, and I'll have to admit he was the most remarkable human creature I have ever met. Furthermore, his impact on me was profound, curiously more so as the years passed after his disappearance from my life.
In fairness, I am indebted to him for discovering the wonder of creative writing. He'll mosey into the story well after the halfway mark. I've given him the name of Jivin. I've presented him as a Mescalero Apache Indian though, as his parents are aware, his true identity is well-protected.
I wrote a short story, a blog piece, about my experience with him. If you care to read it, I've posted it on my blog. My blog is entitled 97% True, the names have been changed to protect the innocent - even the guilty are exempt from being publicly exposed. You can contact me via my website. I love to hear from readers and as time permits I do my best to reply to every email.
About the Author
Dennis A. Nehamen (pronounced nee-min) was born and raised in Los Angeles. He attended U.C.L.A. After earning his Ph.D. in psychology he began his practice, specializing in forensic and clinical casework. Dennis has served as an expert witness for high-profile legal proceedings and consulted on traumatic situations; he’s also been a guest on numerous media shows.
His experience treating criminal and deviant behavior has contributed toward an unusual depth and authenticity in his writing, an adventure into the fictional arena that began almost a decade ago. He’s created screenplays, novels, and an award-winning musical. Mistaken Enemy is the first release of his Zach Miller Thrillers.
Dennis enjoys the outdoors, hiking especially. He lives in Los Angeles, California with his wife and their English Cocker Spaniel dog, Henry Higgins - named after the cranky yet adorable phonetician of My Fair Lady. He has a grown son and daughter.