The Spy House, published by Matthew Dunn in 2015, is a competently written thriller and one of the most annoying books I’ve ever read. I’m sure I’ve read some other Dunn thrillers featuring joint MI6 and CIA agent Will Cochrane, but this one made more of an impression because the plot is over-the-top ridiculous and Dunn, according to the book’s cover, is a former MI6 officer who must know better.
The plot was obviously taking an odd direction when the assembled personnel at a White House meeting agree that Israel is a “rabid dog”. This seems a bit extreme as a consensus about a democratic ally, although certainly possible. But it turns out that Israel is literally crazy. The Israeli ambassador to France has been assassinated and Israel believes that this was done by Hamas and intends to wipe out Hamas in Gaza in retaliation.
Let’s ignore, for the moment, that when hundreds of rockets were launched into Israel from Gaza, this being not probably but indubitably the responsibility of Hamas, Israel, for it’s own sake, was determined not to wipe out Hamas and saddle itself with Gaza.
According to Dunn’s scenario Israel intends, at the same time as it attacks Hamas in the south, to attack both Hizballah, in Lebanon to the north (an entirely separate entity to Hamas) and the Palestinian Authority to the East. In other words, Israel plans to start wars simultaneously on three fronts. And it announces these plans two weeks in advance to the assembled bureaucrats of the U.S., Britain, and France (i.e. to the whole world). This would really require Israelis to be mad dogs, just as likely as pit bulls to chase you down the street and sink their teeth into your ankle.
The United States, Britain and France are worried that if Israel goes to war it will cause havoc in the Middle East, because Sunnis will start fighting Shiites. The reader is not supposed to have noticed that at the time of the book’s publication there was already havoc in the Middle East, and that Sunnis and Shiites started fighting without waiting for Israel to attack them both (and wouldn’t this be more likely to make them stop fighting each other and cooperate against their common enemy?)
Dunn’s plot clearly isn’t meant to be entirely realistic. His protagonist is almost a super-hero, and he inhabits a fictionalized spy world in which a master spy might have all of his antagonist’s friends and family killed just to make him feel bad. Dunn may have thought that there was no point thinking up a realistic plot for this kind of book. I disagree with that. Realistic would be good, and even barely plausible would be better than completely ridiculous.
Another possibility is that Dunn simply assumed that his readers either wouldn’t notice or wouldn’t care.
My best guess – Dunn entrusted the plot to an early version of a computer program, something like “Plot-a-Thriller 1.0”, gave it as key words Israel, Hamas, Hizballah, and Gaza, and pressed “enter”.