Monday, August 3, 2020

The Milk Moon Assassin by L. A. Couriel - An Amazing Historical Story!

This book is an echo. No more than an echo. There is no truth to it. Seek, and you will not find. There are no lies in it. Seek, and you will not find. This book is merely an echo returned by the hillsides that surround the Hill of Battle where thirty-five sacred souls fell in the War of Independence, fighters from Palmach and infantry units, on their way to attempt the rescue of besieged Gush Etzion. Their footsteps pressed a deep furrow through our lives, where stories, myths, and echoes have grown. The tale of their heroism echoes in the hilly landscape facing the windows of my home, and it sounds deeply in my life. Their song was played on a unique string that has broken and disappeared from the instrument, and if we, the author and the reader, listen very closely, the instrument’s sound box—the times we live in, here in the State of Israel—provides us with echoes that help us imagine and extrapolate their origin. Most of us no longer have a direct connection with the strings of objective truth, but I hope that we all still seek their pure tone.  And I hope that you find an echo of the notes that I personally found.

It was the title of the book that made me consider buying and, of course, the brief description allowed me to proceed to purchase. Neither of these prepared me for the book itself. It is extremely long, but does not allow for speed in reading. Be prepared to spend time with this story...An amazing story that is like no other, nor should it be. It is based on a true story of what happened on a Hill of Battle. Tragic, yes, but for one man, the main character, it changed his life dramatically, even though he didn't participate in that war...

Instead, he was a young boy, who had just learned about photography and carried his camera everywhere. So, it was that day, when the troup were about to take that hill preparatory to battle, that the young boy was called over to record forever those who were there to serve...

He professionally lined up the men, taking time in preparation so that all who were there were captured. And he promised that group that he would make and present the photograph for them when they returned.

None of them returned... Was that the truth? Thus begins a mystery to be solved--one that will not be solved until the climactic ending of the book!

Promised Land Homestead
Judean Hills—May 4, 1985 
(Hebrew date—Iyar 14, 5745) 
9:59 p.m. 

A kill? 
An actual kill? 

His practiced finger slid around and around the trigger guard. Clockwise. Counterclockwise. Around. And back. The pistol lay in front of him, a Smith and Wesson Model 41. Magazine. Ten bullets. Long barrel. The amber-colored grip responded silently to his touch. Clockwise. And back. Re-accustoming itself to the feel of his hand, to his fingertips, after years of not killing. 
His body, toned and tensed, began to sink into the old armchair. The dim veranda was surrounded by a thick jumble of low stone walls, sketching a plan many times more grandiose than his available budget, and they brought to mind the sides of some ancient unfinished fortress. His resources had dwindled, and now those walls were his testament, the echo of his legacy to the coming generations. 
As always, mid-month on the Hebrew calendar meant a full moon—but the moon, piercing through the the sooty blue paint on the face of Moshe Roth-Vardi, was already beginning to abate. Twenty-three minutes before, his eyelids had been bathing in the sensation of the magic, silvery light when the bottom left edge of the moon had suddenly showed erosion, which progressed with a speed that left no doubt: a lunar eclipse! An unexpected glitch. Moshe screwed his nerves tighter. Can’t go slack, not now. Despite the rare obstacle to his plan, nothing would stop him. Tomorrow, when the moon came up, it would shine on a fresh new mound added to the other memorials that Moshe had left in nation after nation.

As a young boy, Moshe's parents had left their son and small baby alone to go out and enjoy dinner. During that time, Moshe had become afraid and though his parents had warned against any lights, that young boy turned on a very small light.  Just enough to allow a mosquito to come in and bite that small baby. And he died...

Instead of accepting their own responsibility for leaving the children, Moshe's mother instead blamed Moshe. So much so that she told her husband to send him away...

Memories of that event haunted Moshe throughout the rest of his life. He was never able to forgive himself. But having left home, he did form a long-time friendship--Maurice, who through his magnetic personality became his mentor and leader...and a rivalry that also lasted through their lifetimes... especially with regard to women...

Moshe became an assassin. He didn't see himself as a murderer. He was trained to kill and through his vivid mental and psychological skills soon became the best of the best. He was sent all over the world for one reason. To kill whoever he was told to kill. Until that fateful "incident" that led to his forced relocation to another job and ultimately retirement.

Was he really free to go away and create a new life? His family and friends second-guessed him at every turn, up until the point he decided it was time for him to act on his own to make decisions. In writing the story, Couriel has chosen to begin at a place after retirement--he is set up for a new assignment a new hit job...and then he leaves readers to proceed through various points of his history to slowly build an unbelievably taut, extraordinary tale of how an assassin is forced to come to the reality of his past and how each life incident had influenced his actions.

There are periods of deep depression and, perhaps, escapism from reality, for Moshe. On the other hand, he becomes friends with "an enemy" of the past from whom he acquires the land and builds the home he wanted based upon his strict specifications. Can you be neighbors with a man who may also be your enemy? 

More importantly, Moshe had chosen to come back to the days of his youth when he had taken his first picture...of a group of soldiers...who had all died on The Hill that was located just above his new home... Little by little Moshe works through everything that had happened since his younger baby brother died, and he had been blamed.

If you find yourself hearing echos from your past as I did, then perhaps, you will find yourself arriving at the place where Moshe finally lives for the rest of his life. I found it to be a remarkable journey, though vastly different from my own life. Yet, I found myself often seeing Moshe in myself as each of us struggles to proceed through and, hopefully, arrive at a point in life where we are, at last, content, if not totally happy. 

Assassinating other people may be a job. But it also can be the destruction of the mind and heart of he who assassinates. During times of war or in times of daily living, we are often stifled in so many ways from our own reality. Moshe taught me much, even in just realizing that there is no truth in this story, only echoes of a past we have been forced into... If you hope to find yourself in a story, however, this just might be the best possible book into which to immerse yourself. Some might even declare it a must-read... The music of your past life must be heard only by you... Highly recommended.


Lior Couriel is an architect and urban planner who has practiced both in the US and Israel. He is also an e-commerce specialist, fierce environmentalist and a veteran of an airborne intelligence wing. He enjoys volunteering for local public positions to help with his community.
He loves to write about topics describing both struggle and tragedy: romance, vengeance, espionage, history, conspiracy, the Mossad, flight...
Lior is the father of four adults. He's married to his teenage crush, and lives amid forested hills in a stone house, with a fireplace inside and Sienna, the cat, outside.
Lior Couriel pursues the kind of life he would like to remember, never taking his eyes off the target: passionate writing. More historical fiction novels are currently under way, the locations of whose plots he researches thoroughly through extensive traveling.
Wish to take part in the journey? Contact Lior by sending an e-mail to or by leaving a message at

1 comment:

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