Every so often you are reminded that the best books are the most straight forward. Complex plots, twists and turns every few pages, dozens of intricate character arcs … they’ll never match something direct and well paced. Keith Turnbull’s newest outing, Rogue Warrior, benefits from a focused and taut narrative that eschews ostentation for solid, stripped-down storytelling. The fact that the protagonist is so immediately compelling adds the cherry to a cake that is rich in tempo and full of mood.

Beautiful, deadly … disciplined, haunted …, ruthless – Shoshanna Agnon is a character of juxtaposition and depth. These dualities are key to her appeal: honour, vengeance and morality fight a war within her mind, where the delineation between them is blurred and fuzzy. Turnbull keeps us toeing a line of admiration and respect despite rooting for a heroine that is equal parts monster and gentle soul.

Agnon’s background reflects her dualisms. Born in Israel to a Syrian Shia mother and Israeli father, she’s not fully embraced by any culture or creed. But her father encourages her to fight for Israel, and she joins the military, becoming the first woman to be initiated into the secretive Special Forces unit Shayetet 13. From confused child to lethal soldier, something comes undone in Agnon along the way. After the death of her mother at the hands of Israeli conscript soldiers, she becomes the titular rogue. The loss stokes a fire that burns for retribution …

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