Keepers of the Gate), in which Palestinian-American detective Ben Kamal and "/>

BLOOD DIAMONDS

Jon Land, Author . Forge $25.95 (384p) ISBN 978-0-7653-0226-7

Land packs a load of information and action into his fifth thriller (after 2001's Keepers of the Gate), in which Palestinian-American detective Ben Kamal and his unlikely partner and lover, Israeli detective Danielle Barnea, battle a female Sierra Leone rebel leader with global designs. On the plus side are Kamal and Barnea, both touching and accessible characters with enough backstory to make them interesting, but not too much to overexplain them (although in Kamal's case it becomes a near thing, especially in flashback scenes from his father's life). There are also some sharp political insights into how prospects in the Middle East have deteriorated since the series began; as Kamal's friend and mentor Colonel al-Asi grimly recalls, "The cooperative ventures you and Barnea worked on were symbols of peace when it still seemed possible." The action scenes are as plentiful and professionally rendered as ever, ranging this time from Israel's West Bank and a doomed Russian town to a bloody Sierra Leone landscape where the rebel leader (known as the Dragon) trades her country's uncut diamonds for weapons of supreme terror. But Land interrupts the flow of his narrative by constantly cutting from one set of players to another—each cut is soon predictable by its length and by the cliff-hanging clichés that end most chapters. There's also an impossible-to-kill villain, whose near-magic reappearances will irk readers. Established fans will probably overlook the flaws, but newcomers might wonder what the previous fuss was all about. (Apr.)

Reviewed on: 02/25/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
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