The Serpent's Smile by Olga Hesky
Saturday-Night Theatre: The Serpent's Smile
Sat 16th Feb 1985, 20:30 on BBC Radio 4 FM
By Neville Teller, based on the novel by Olga Hesky
A thriller set in 1960’s Israel.
Dizengoff Street, Tel Aviv, Israel, on a Saturday night, with the Sabbath over and everyone crowding the cafes. Just the time and place to dump a corpse and make a getaway, leaving Inspector Tami Shimoni to pick up the pieces - or rather, scrape up the bloodstains - and start out on the trail of a bunch of international killers and the most terrifying secret weapon imaginable.
Directed by John Cardy
Tami Shimoni: Steve Hodson
Shelley Bernstein: Susan Denaker
Pappa Barzilai: John Gabriel
Yehoshua Caleb: Peter Acre
Dr Livini: Cyril Shaps
Restaurant owner: Harry Towb
Police surgeon: Bernard Brown
Set Lieb: William Eedle
Yitzhak: Colin Starkey
Mr Reuben: Alan Thompson
Supt Cohen: David Garth
Uzi: Adrian Egan
Max: Arnold Diamond
Freda Harrison: Gwen Cherrell
Joe Harrison: Ed Bishop
Maisie Rice: Mia Soteriou
Morris Rice: David Sinclair
Hashi: Ali Refaie
Betty Mannering: Barbara Atkinson
Other parts were played by members of the cast.
It's Saturday evening in Tel Aviv - from dusk on the eve of the Sabbath until the first star puts in an appearance in the Saturday evening sky, the whole town is pretty much like a morgue. Then slowly, one by one, the shops down the main thoroughfare - Dizengoff Street - switch on their lights and open their doors; the scores of cafés set out their tables and chairs on the wide boulevards; the traffic starts to flow - slowly at first, then faster and more furiously as daylight fades completely into the balmy summer night. The people come in ones and twos, in scores, and then in droves to sample the cosmopolitan delights of one of the world's greatest thoroughfares, The Champs Elysées of Israel. Amid all that noise, all those crowds, all that confusion, who could be expected to notice how it was that one young man toppled slowly to the pavement, blood spreading over his shirt front ... The man had died of a knife wound to the chest, but there wasn't any hole in his shirt to correspond with the wound. He was dead when he arrived at Dizengoff Street, probably unloaded from a car at the curb, and supported at each side for a few paces. Then simply left to fall - while the two of them walked away.
Inspector Tami Shimoni is brought in to investigate only to find that he will have to do so without the corpse which was suddenly taken away, after a post-mortem in the middle of the night, on orders by the Inspector General, the Head of the Israel Police. Tami soon finds that the death of the young man is tied into another investigation, though minor, that he is working on: a young American tourist that had her camera stolen.
The dead man is later identified as Yehoshua Caleb, an Israeli GUG Agent, who had been in Libya secretly investigating the recent development of micro-virus that has no antidote, except one made from the same formula. He had returned unexpectedly to Israel on the same flight as Shelley Bernstein, the young American tourist who had her camera stolen. But why did he return? He had not contacted anyone and nothing was found on his body. All Tami has to go on is that Caleb had a cryptic conversation with Shelley on their flight in and was to meet with her for dinner the night he died.
Dramatised by Neville Teller from Olga Hesky's 1966 novel, "The Serpent's Smile”.
A writer of earlier historical and general novels, this book is the author's debut thriller. Set in Tel Aviv, Israel, 'The Serpent's Smile' has an ingenious plot that involves the extinction of an entire country's population….
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