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You can't spend too much time at Book Sales & Bookstores without stumbling upon
the many books of Jon Land.  But I'd managed to avoid reading one because of
their generic Ludlumesque titles--Omega Deception, Doomsday Spiral, Gamma
Option, etc.  But this book grabbed my attention.  With the end of the Cold War,
the Middle East seems to offer the most fertile ground for thriller writers.
Land has savvily set his 19th novel in the newly independent Palestinian West
Bank.  The story follows Ben Kamal, an American Arab policeman who has returned
to his homeland to help train the Palestinian Police Forces,  and Danielle
Barnea, a female Shin Bet agent, as they join forces to track down a serial
killer, Al-Dib "The Wolf".

This book is a marvel.  It contains all that is best and worst in current
writing.  Land's story is exciting and the plot rockets forward.  The characters
are extremely likable.  The opposition that Kamal and Barnea face from their own
bosses & from a hostile populace add a terrific layer of tension.  However, the
book also has about three endings & just keeps going on & on; it would be much
better less 75 pages.  And it contains one of the most annoying creatures in
modern detective fiction, the rogue hero, in this case ex-Colonel Frank
Brickland,  who will do the dirty work that our central heroes can not do--think
of Hawk in the Spenser series.

With all that, I think if you're about to get on an airplane & you're looking
for a good, quick, big-print read, you won't do much better than this one.


Grade: (C+)


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