Richard North Patterson pens a beautiful love story in the context of one of the world’s most explosive situations. Once again, his hero is a lawyer. Only this time, David Wolfe has an ideal life. He is engaged to the woman of his dreams, Carole Shorr, a beautiful, bright and influential player in the Jewish community and the Democratic Party in San Francisco. She wants what he wants – marriage, a family, a political career for David. Her father, Harold, a Holocaust survivor, already thinks of David as his son. Although David is not very religious, Carole and her father have made him aware of his Jewish roots.
When Israeli Prime Minister Amon Ben-Aron arrives in town, Carole hosts a reception for him. Ironically, soon after David receives a phone call from his long-lost love, Palestinian Hana Arif. While they were studying law at Harvard Law School, the two had a passionate affair which was doomed from the beginning. He has not heard from her for fifteen years, but now she is visiting San Francisco with her Muslim husband, Saef, and her daughter, Munira, to protest Ben-Aron’s visit. Is this all a coincidence? The next day, after a compelling speech about reconciliation between Israel and her Palestinian neighbours, Ben-Aron’s car is blown up by two suicide bombers – Ibrahim Jefar and Iyad Hassan. Both David and Carole witness this tragic event.
One of the assassins, Jefar, lives to reveal the name of the person directing the operation to kill the Israeli Prime Minister: Hana Arif. When Hana asks for David’s help to defend her from the charges of terrorism, David cannot refuse his former lover. His decision to defend an accused Palestinian terrorist not only costs him his political career, but also Carole. She cannot understand why a Jewish lawyer would want to defend the accused murdered of the Israeli Prime Minister.
As David digs deeper into the case against Hana, he finds deception and intrigue. He must now deal not only with the legal system but with the FBI, CIA and Israeli government. To build his case, he travels to Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank to find the truth. His journey takes him to leaders of Hamas, the Al Aqsa Brigade, the Mossad and the Sin Bet. What he uncovers leads to death, destruction and some shocking revelations. Will he be able to save Hana? Will he be able to save himself?
Patterson explores the various issues in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, trying to preserve his objectivity by presenting all sides so that readers can decide for themselves. The issues are complex, going back thousands of years. Do the Israelis have the right to the land that they call Israel? Do the Palestinians have a right to return to their homeland? Are the settlers on the West Bank breaking international agreements? Will Hamas totally take over Palestinian government? Will terrorism triumph? Is there a solution? Will there ever be peace in the Middle East?
The concepts of right and wrong are severely tested in this novel. Black-and-white answers to proverbial questions are not readily available to these thorny political, economic, social and religious issues. Patterson has obviously done extensive research on the issues which he addresses in this novel. He shows both the Jewish and Palestinian perspectives in great detail. He also eloquently describes the harsh realities of daily life for both Jewish and Palestinian inhabitants of this troubled region. Safety and security are almost non-existent in this land drenched in terrorism. Patterson’s Notes and Acknowledgements at book’s end attest to his research.
Ultimately, this novel is a love story between two people who have come together despite all odds. During their law school days, although Hana is engaged to Saef, she is irresistibly drawn into an affair with David. Throughout their torrid relationship, she knows that it will have to end. Even when it does, the two continually think about each other despite the distance of time and place; the question that remains is if the star-crossed lovers will triumph in the end.