Pillars of Solomon

Jon Land, Author
Jon Land, Author Forge $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-312-86819-2
Ebook - 448 pages - 978-1-4299-5772-4
Mass Market Paperbound - 438 pages - 978-0-8125-6672-7
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In his 20th book, Land offers a bracing sequel to the well-received thriller, The Walls of Jericho, once again featuring Palestinian detective and ex-Detroit cop Ben Kamal, and Jerusalem police inspector Danielle Barnea, Ben's old flame. Delving into the disappearance of the 12-year-old daughter of a Jericho woman, Ben is warned of a planned suicide bombing in Tel Aviv's Atarim Square. With phone service disrupted, he dashes off, unaware that he is on a collision course with Danielle, who is investigating the slaying of a 70-year-old Jerusalem shopkeeper. Soon it becomes apparent that the two cases are connected, the common denominator involving a group of four friends who, as young men in 1947, made a pact of friendship rooted in their struggle to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, but with unforeseen and sinister complications. Flashback vignettes illuminate the action with historic insights into the infamous bloody conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and the narrative evolves into a minor travelogue of the region, featuring side trips to Hebron, Petra, Haifa, Athens and on to the U.S. As the multilayered plot unfolds, a mega-million-dollar conspiracy to supply a worldwide white slavery trade with children looms central, but a darker secret, a Moses-like allegorical twist, lurks beneath the surface. The pivotal piece of evidence revealing this secret is a personal journal, inexplicably written in the third person; this crucial detail baffles, and the final 100 pages disappoint, as the narrative wobbles toward a summarizing, expository conclusion. All loose ends are tied up rather methodically, but there is some satisfaction in finding a logical place for every piece of the puzzle, especially given the vivid and disturbing chaos of Land's modern Mideastern setting. (Mar.)
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