The Hunt for "Tokyo Rose";

LOVERS IN LOM: And Other Stories

Russell Warren Howe, Author . Novella Club $15 (354p) ISBN 978-0-9679135-3-7

Though now largely out of print, Howe has spent a prolific career as a journalist, historian and novelist (The Hunt for "Tokyo Rose"; False Flags). The 10 stories collected here work best as a historical atlas of that career, charting the places and people Howe has encountered since 1962, the date of the earliest story. As fiction, they're less successful. The atmospheric title story is a view of the expatriate's life in the early days of postcolonial West Africa, which introduces enough secondary characters to fill an embassy before turning into a murder mystery. "The History Mistress" is a standard British schoolboy's fantasy involving a female teacher's affection. "Shoshana's Gambit" binds a young Israeli woman and a middle-aged Palestinian professor in a novella-length plot to outwit the Mossad. Despite Howe's considerable experience in current affairs, the tale offers little insight into the complex world of Middle Eastern politics, instead focusing on a contrived story of star-crossed lovers. Reader interest may be piqued, however, by its thinly veiled portrait of Ariel Sharon, circa 1986. "The Man Who Loved Karin Westerlund" details a rivalry between two biographers, one young and the other elderly. It's narrated by yet a third writer, who looks upon this rivalry with intellectual interest, but none of the emotional investment necessary to enthrall the reader. All in all, this book of occasional stories isn't likely to catapult any of Howe's earlier works back into print. Readers interested in contemporary politics may find interesting background detail; those who read for plot will have seen it all before. (May 1)

Reviewed on: 05/07/2001
Release date: 05/01/2001
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