Yigal Zur Author

Yigal Zur was born in Israel on July 14, 1955 in the northern city of Haifa, on the slopes of the Carmel Mountains. His parents came to Israel after World War II, having survived the ghettos and concentration camps. His father lost his entire family in the Holocaust, leaving him the sole survivor.

Yigal Zur spent many happy childhood hours wandering through the mountains of Galilee and Carmel or devouring the books he loved best: adventure stories by Joseph Conrad, Jules Verne, Rudyard Kipling, and Jack London, and tales of voyages to Africa and the North and South Poles. He was confident he would someday follow in the footsteps of explorers like Alexander von Humboldt, Sir Henry Morton Stanley, and Dr. David Livingstone.

When the Yom Kippur War broke out in 1973, Zur was a soldier on the front lines in the Golan Heights, and as a young artillery officer, crossed with the IDF’s Special Forces deep into enemy territory.

Toward the end of the war and the imminent conclusion of his military service, he began to repeat to himself like a mantra: When it’s all over, I’m going to India. For seven years he traveled the world with only a knapsack on his back and irrepressible curiosity, his eyes gaping in wonder.


“On its surface, Death in Shangri-La is a whodunit, a detective tale of a man who goes to India in search of his best friend’s killer. But at its core lies a story about love, spiritual angst, and the search for inner enlightenment and understanding—with a surprising and deeply satisfying ending. Yigal Zur is a talent, and Dotan Naor is a character who deserves to return in future adventures.”

—Alan Jacobson, USA Today bestselling author of Dark Side of the Moon

Zur opted for a career in the theater, living for a time in the gritty Brixton district of London, where a friendship with a street musician led him to move to Paris and study theater movement and mime with the famed French acting instructor Jacques Lecoq at L’École Internationale de Théâtre. On his return to Israel, he studied film at the Beit Zvi School for the Performing Arts in Ramat Gan and went on to study Hebrew literature and Chinese philosophy at Tel Aviv University.

It was at this time that his first stories were published in various magazines and newspapers, and he began to attract the attention of the literary community. This period was also the background for his first short story collection, “The Monsoon’s End, in which he expressed the feelings of youngsters in search of themselves, longing for something they can not name, constantly seeking until what is meant to happen happens.



“Think Homeland meets Raymond Chandler with an Israeli twist. Death in Shanghai-La is a fascinating read and Yigal Zur is the big new name in international thrillers.”

 – Jason Starr, International Bestselling Author of Fugitive Red


Zur married and started a family, and at the same time began working as a tour guide, introducing Israelis to some of his favorite places in Southeast Asia, writing travel pieces for the local papers, and filming and presenting travel items for Israeli TV. He established himself as Israel’s special correspondent to unusual events, reaching the height of his reporting career when he became the only Israeli ever to be embedded with US armed forces in action. Attached to the 22 Signals, 3rd Division during Operation Desert Storm 2003, he was a one-man journalistic task force, writing and broadcasting daily from Iraq for the Israeli press and TV.

Other major journalistic projects include reports of a journey to uncover Jewish genetic footprints in Eastern Africa, a meeting with Khun Sa, the most notorious drug lord in Thailand and Myanmar, and the search and rescue of missing Israeli travelers the world over. Zur also hosted his own long-running travel show on Israeli TV.

Throughout this time, he continued to write novels, travelogues, and travel guides, including cultural guides to India and China. In 2000, he published “Dark Prune which centers around the investigation into whether the Ethiopian soldier whose body was found hanging had committed suicide or whether he was the victim of a racist murder. The book became an overnight success. Together with director Daniel Wachsmann, he also wrote the screenplay for “Menelik, the Black Jewish Prince, which won the Israeli Film Academy’s Best Director award in 1999.

Realizing that the plots of all his previous novels were driven by criminal investigations, Zur decided to base his next books on his personal experience as a life-long traveler, including his intimate knowledge of the role Israelis play in the arms industry and drug smuggling. This decision gave birth to private detective Dotan Naor, a former member of the Israeli Security Agency, the central character in three suspense novels thus far, all of which have been highly acclaimed.