The Nylon Hand of God

Steven Hartov, Author William Morrow & Company $23 (0p) ISBN 978-0-688-14120-2
Like his debut, The Heat of Ramadan, Hartov's second novel is a superior thriller, dark and exciting, that pits an Israeli military intelligence officer against ruthless and wily terrorists. The narrative opens with a suicide bombing of the Israeli embassy in New York. Because the attack may have been intended to disrupt Operation Moonlight, an imminent top-secret prisoner exchange between Israel and the Iranian-backed terrorist group Hizbollah, the operation's engineer, Lt. Colonel Benjamin ""Benni"" Baum, flies to the States to investigate. There, the aging Baum takes time out to reconcile with his estranged daughter-who becomes a prime target for the colonel's old enemy, German terrorist Martina Klump, whom Baum suspects of the bombing. But neither Baum nor Klump suspect that they both are being manipulated by agents of Iran, who are using the prisoner exchange as a cover for a far more dangerous game. Hartov excels not only at action scenes-a shoot-out in a nursing home; the theft of a missile-but also at character touches and turns that deepen and complicate the plot. The most resonant complications concern Baum's past. Once revealed, they throw a shadow over the entire narrative, even its thrilling climax, lifting the novel from the realm of first-rate action-adventure into that of the finest sort of espionage thriller-one that touches on the painful truths behind the spymaster's stocks-in-trade of deceit and betrayal. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
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