Rise, Desert Man
Ron Strauss
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Ron Strauss' *Rise Desert Man* Rise, Desert Man
Ron Strauss
Fithian Press
318 pages
Copyright 1999
rated 3 of 5 possible stars

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Miami attorney Ron Strauss makes a respectable authorial debut in the international thriller Rise, Desert Man. Strauss spent several years home and abroad researching this tale of Middle Eastern conflict and terrorism, and it shows. There's no doubt the author has a firm grip on the politics surrounding the Israel vs. Arab Palestine issue, and he opens a window into the hush-hush world of the Israeli Mossad, a secret service that carries out deadly clandestine missions on the soil of other nations.

Curled Up With a Good BookThe Arab terrorist behind the kidnapping and murders of Israeli athletes during the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich has struck again, this time murdering innocent bystanders in an attempted hijacking at an Italian airport. Among the dead are the daughter and grandson of one of Israel's greatest undercover operative's, Pasha Ed-Al. A Druze Arab who has retired to the desert, "The Ghost" is the last hope of the Israeli Prime Minister for final vengeance against the man who killed his son in the Munich massacre. The terrorist, a member of an extremist Palestinian nationalist group, is known only as Nayeff, and he has eluded the Mossad's wrath for over a quarter century.

The Ghost agrees to come out of retirement to make his daughter's killers pay, but matters quickly become complicated when Nayeff kidnaps an American general in Italy, a man who not only is a close personal friend of the U.S. president but is also the man responsible for nuclear weapons codes in Europe. Now the CIA is in on the game, and not everyone involved in the chase for Nayeff cares if the military hostage lives or dies. Armed with covertly obtained American intelligence and assisted in an unlikely manner by the Camorra (the Italian version of the American mafia), The Ghost will lead an elite strike team in a deadly race against time to free an innocent man and to assassinate a murderer.

An underplayed love story between the Israeli Prime Minister's widowed daughter-in-law and "The Ghost" figures in quite importantly at the conclusion of Rise, Desert Man, softening the testosterone-powered chessboard manipulations of the story's most prominent male players. Most of the main characters tend to indulge in overly philosophical monologues more often than seems strictly necessary, but it certainly does make them seem like the extraordinary men mere citizens expect their leaders to be. Probably the character most readers will be likely to identify with is Deputy Director of the CIA Bill O'Shea, the most regular joe in the whole bunch. With an extra sharp twist at the end, this novel's climax may feel like a bit of a cheat to some readers, but it entertains a wonderful possibility: that two of the world's most mortal enemies may at last be able to acknowledge the terrible losses each has experienced and to finally put the killing to an end.

© 2000 by Sharon Schulz-Elsing for Curled Up With a Good Book

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