Spy novel finally makes it to the movies

By Donald H. Harrison

Donald H. Harrison

SAN DIEGO — Author Howard Kaplan wandered 40 years through the movie desert, but unlike Moses, he’s going to enter the Promised Land.  At the upcoming Boston Film Festival, on Sept. 23, the successful spy novel he published in 1977—The Damascus Cover—will finally be premiered as a movie starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Sir John Hart.

I don’t know how closely the movie will follow the novel, but assuming it differs only in details, then movie-goers are going to see a story of wheels within wheels or plots within plots, that will make them wonder, as I did, can any spy services be as clever as Israel’s Mossad (for whom the protagonist Ari Ben-Sion works)?  And, if there are intelligence chiefs that clever, that manipulative, and that accomplished in predicting behavior of both friends and foes, where can the United States find some for the CIA?

I don’t want to give you the idea that the Israeli spy Ari Ben-Sion is a James Bond-type, always one step ahead of his adversaries.  In fact, he is over-the-hill, and subject to making lust-driven mistakes—a sure fire recipe for getting in trouble, especially in Syria, where he not only has Arab adversaries to contend with, but also ex-German Nazis who have been hiding in Damascus since the end of World War II.

Because he is a man with flaws, Ben-Ari is perhaps more interesting a character than Bond, who you know will always triumph in the end. Watching Ben-Ari getting into danger, one can never be sure how it will turn out.  And isn’t that the essence of a suspense novel?

Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World.  He may be contacted via [email protected]

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