The Walls of Jericho

Jon Land, Author Forge $23.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-312-86267-1
Honing a talent displayed in some 14 previous books, Land has written a riveting thriller about bone-deep prejudices, secrets and betrayals. The tale takes place in the very near future, when Israel is about to complete its withdrawal from the West Bank. Ben Kamal, Palestine-born and Detroit-trained detective, has returned to his native land after losing his family to a serial killer. Ben's attempts to raise the professional standards of the Palestinian police have foundered on the rocks of the fanatic tribalism of hardliners. Al-Diib (the Wolf) is a sadistic serial killer claiming victims in Jericho. The murders fan fear and fuel resistance to the peace process. To protect upcoming peace talks, the Palestinians and Israelis set up a joint murder investigation headed by Ben and Danielle Barnea, beautiful rising star of Israel's Shin Bet. Mutual ignorance and suspicion are soon vanquished by Ben's and Danielle's professionalism. Land (The Fires of Midnight, etc.) takes the risk of romantically entangling his protagonists, but does so believably. Ben and Danielle are kept off-balance by hidden agendas and daunting questions: Is Al-Diib Palestinian or Israeli? Is he protected by any of the police or security forces? Is he really multiple killers? Danielle and Ben work through a thick maze of secrecy and deceit among a large, colorful cast of characters, including a mysterious American ""colonel"" who turns into something of a Rambo ex machina. The ending is a bit far-fetched, but the picture of two societies fighting fiercely among themselves and with each other is vivid, wrenching and not rosy. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/31/1997
Release date: 04/01/1997
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