Keepers of the Gate

Jon Land, Author Forge $25.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-312-85655-7
A mysterious killer who is targeting Holocaust survivors sends detective Ben Kamal a Palestinian-American who has been working on the West Bank for six years and his Israeli sidekick, Danielle Barnea, down a labyrinthine trail of conspiracy and deception in Land's (A Walk in the Darkness, etc.) latest installment in this ongoing series. Corpses litter the Middle East landscape throughout this action-packed story, but once the initial victims surface the investigation splits into two parts one involving a group of Nazi hunters who emerge in the middle of the ongoing detective work, the other dealing with a separate string of murders in which the victims are clever high school students who organize a high-level blackmail operation targeting Israeli companies. The link between the two is Paul Hessler, a wealthy company owner whose shady past also dates back to the Holocaust, and who becomes a blackmail target after the murder of his son helps his firm make a startling medical discovery that could save the lives of millions, including the genetically damaged child that Barnea is carrying. Land is adept at gauging the unique effects the Mideastern culture and history will have on the emotions and motivations of his protagonists, but he spends precious few pages developing the complex relationship between Kamal and Barnea as they narrow the list of suspects to a small group whose past intersects with the liberation of a concentration camp. What the book lacks in terms of character development, however, the author makes up for through a series of innovative plot twists that take the story in some intriguing directions. Land's penchant for overplotting mutes the impact of the surprise ending, but those who enjoyed the earlier Kamal/Barnea outings should find this a satisfying read. Agent, Toni Mendez. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/2001
Release date: 04/01/2001
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