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Full Name: Tami Shimoni
Nationality: Israeli
Organization: Gag
Occupation Agent

Creator: Olga Hesky
Time Span: 1966 - 1985


Tami Shimoni is an agent with Gag.

Pappa Barzilai is a spymaster with Gag.

First some information, scant though it is, on Gag. It is used a time or two in all caps but mostly in blurbs about the adventures. In the stories themselves, it is usually with lower-case though the first G is often capitalized. The reason for the discrepancy can be blamed on the fact that just about no one in the private sector knew anything about it at all and those that did largely just knew rumors. Even those in the various intelligence groups in Israel had sketchy information on it.

What is known by some is that "thee was a roof organization of the vaious security services, including military, the Shin Bet - already exotic in its own secretive right - and other branches of the police. In Hebrew the word for 'roof' was 'gag'. The organization was known, informally, and even against regulations (for it should have no name) as Gag." What that means is that for the power and authority that the various bureaus had, there was something above them that could, if it felt needed, override orders and take charge. We learn largely anecdotally that it does not often press its leverage but when it does, it means it.

Back to Shimoni, though, it is important to note that while he is an agent with Gag and he has several recorded adventures in that capacity, he is in truth only a part-time operative. When needed, he is called and he shows up without fail. When not needed, he is a Detective Inspector with the Tel Aviv police and has been for more than a few years. He enjoys his work tremendously and would gladly stay doing it and not stepping in the shadowy world of Gag except his devotion to his country does not allow him to refuse requests for assistance.

Those requests come from Pappa Barzilai who, if anyone asked (no one really did), was some sort of functionary doing something mundane and basically unintelligible at the port of Tel Avia, a glorified clerk at best and by and large a pleasant older man who should have retired a few years back but obviously could not afford to. Even Mama Barzilai would tell you that because that sweet grandmotherly old lady truly believed it. Mind you, Pappa did not lie to Mama about his job. He just never saw the need to bother letting her know the truth.

Now comes the one fun fact about the relationship between Shimoni and Barzilai. Ever since Shimoni graduated from the police academy, he roomed with the Barzilai's. Their previous tenant had been a policeman, too. Shimoni enjoyed living with the Barzilai family because it was very much a family setting and the rent was cheap and Shimoni did not make all that much even as an Inspector. And for the several years he had been with them already, he, too, never once though the rather short and very rotund older man was nothing more than what he let everyone believe. True, Shimoni would note that Barzilai would disappear at the oddest times for one mix-up or another at the port but the older man was so blasé and unassuming, it never occurred to Shimoni to think anything else.

Which is a factor that will always keep Shimoni humbled when he considered his true and considerable skills as a detective; that he could live in the Barzilai household for so long and have nary a clue.

It would be a police matter that would extend into the cloak and dagger world that bring Shimoni into the fold of Gag and the knowledge that the chubby sweet old man was really a brilliant, cold-as-ice, spymaster. And it would other police situations which would get him recalled to Gag duty. And the knowledge that what he should be doing as a police officer, sworn to obey the laws and regulations of the land, would often conflict with the demands of his duties with Gag where only results mattered.


Number of Books:4
First Appearance:1966
Last Appearance:1972

1 The Serpent's Smile The Serpent's Smile
Written by Olga Hesky
Copyright: 1966

"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."

2 Time For Treason Time For Treason
Written by Olga Hesky
Copyright: 1968

[plot unknown]

3 The Sequin Syndicate The Sequin Syndicate
Written by Olga Hesky
Copyright: 1970

"The dead Arab had been dumped inside the wall of the Tel Aviv cemetery. There was a knife in his chest, a gold sequin in his mouth, and three more medieval Venetian coins in his stomach. Pappa Barzilai ... assigned Lt. Tami Shimoni to the case. Somewhat to Tami's surprise, he learned he was to be accompanied on his investigation byAlice, the pretty journalist who was visiting the Barzilais. ... Yet he had to admit that it was she who had found the dead man and had notified the police, and strangely, took, she know aobut the secret gold shipment that had left one of the sheikdoms - gold to be used to organize sabotage in Israel."

4 A Different Night A Different Night
Written by Olga Hesky
Copyright: 1972

It was a different night - a special night when Jews around the world celebrate their deliverance from Egypt more than 3000 years before. This night, "the life of a child was in play; so, also, was that of the American V.I.P. who was already on his way and whose life was of special value in the power play of nations." Pappa Barzilai has tasked Tami Shimoni to work with American Secret Service agent Alan Proctor to do the impossible - save both the boy and the envoy/


Number of Episodes:1
First Appearance:1985
Last Appearance:1985

Steve HodsonTami Shimoni [ 1 ]
Susan DenakerShelley Bernstein [ 1 ]
John GabrielPappa Barzilai [ 1 ]

1 The Serpent's Smile
Episode 1-1, first aired 1985
Director: John Cardy
Writer: Nevile Teller

Aired on BBC Radio 4 FM on Saturday Feb. 16, 1985, as part of the Saturday-Night Theatre."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."


I really had fun with these four enjoyable mixtures of spycraft and police procedurals. Shimoni is a good character to follow as he wants to be a law abiding police officer tracking down bad guys to arrest them for further prosecution. He will chafe at times when he knows that what he has to go for Gag will conflict with that desire. He also loves his country and knows how tenuous its existence was.

The fact that the time frame these tales were written in and take place was shortly after the Six Day War is important as the constant threats of terrorism inside the borders and threats of enemy countries attacking from outside are tangible. But so too is the determination of most of the citizens to go on with their lives and enjoy them.

I also really appreciated the fact that while Tami Shimoni is definitely the lead character in the series as the tales follow him around constantly, the delightful and not a little scary Pappa Barzilai deserves his co-marquee status. There would be no tales without Barzilai.


My Grade: B+


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