Cover image for The pillars of Solomon
The pillars of Solomon
Land, Jon.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Forge, 1999.
Physical Description:
348 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Geographic Term:
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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As they search for missing children on Israel's West Bank, Ben Kamal and Danielle Barnea must follow a dangerous path to a truth that no one wants revealed and that someone has already killed to keep hidden.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

Ben Kamal, an American-born Palestinian police inspector, is searching for a young girl who has disappeared from the streets of Jericho. Danielle Barnea, an officer of the Israeli National Police, is investigating the seemingly random murder of one of the Jewish state's earliest heroes. Both crimes lead to a secret that could rock the Middle East. A huge slave ring, providing child labor for sweatshops and young prostitutes for bordellos around the world, is operating with impunity in both Israel and Palestine. Neither the Israeli government nor the Palestinian Authority want Ben and Danielle to investigate, but a shadowy agent from Interpol and the ghost of a murdered journalist keep the intrepid pair on track. Land has created a world without hope, an environment devoid of morality, and a plot so fantastic that it strains credulity. Acceptable for libraries where there's an insatiable demand for potboilers. --George Needham

Publisher's Weekly Review

In his 20th book, Land offers a bracing sequel to the well-received thriller, The Walls of Jericho, once again featuring Palestinian detective and ex-Detroit cop Ben Kamal, and Jerusalem police inspector Danielle Barnea, Ben's old flame. Delving into the disappearance of the 12-year-old daughter of a Jericho woman, Ben is warned of a planned suicide bombing in Tel Aviv's Atarim Square. With phone service disrupted, he dashes off, unaware that he is on a collision course with Danielle, who is investigating the slaying of a 70-year-old Jerusalem shopkeeper. Soon it becomes apparent that the two cases are connected, the common denominator involving a group of four friends who, as young men in 1947, made a pact of friendship rooted in their struggle to establish a Jewish state in Palestine, but with unforeseen and sinister complications. Flashback vignettes illuminate the action with historic insights into the infamous bloody conflict between Israelis and Palestinians, and the narrative evolves into a minor travelogue of the region, featuring side trips to Hebron, Petra, Haifa, Athens and on to the U.S. As the multilayered plot unfolds, a mega-million-dollar conspiracy to supply a worldwide white slavery trade with children looms central, but a darker secret, a Moses-like allegorical twist, lurks beneath the surface. The pivotal piece of evidence revealing this secret is a personal journal, inexplicably written in the third person; this crucial detail baffles, and the final 100 pages disappoint, as the narrative wobbles toward a summarizing, expository conclusion. All loose ends are tied up rather methodically, but there is some satisfaction in finding a logical place for every piece of the puzzle, especially given the vivid and disturbing chaos of Land's modern Mideastern setting. (Mar.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Pillars of Solomon DAY ONE CHAPTER 1 "M Y DAUGHTER," HANNA Fatuk pleaded, clutching the framed color snapshot tightly in her hands. "You will find her. You must find her! Min fadlak! Please!" Ben Kamal set the sweet mint tea she had served him down on the table and leaned forward. "How long has she been missing, Umm Fatuk?" "Three days. I called the police the first day, but no one came. Same thing yesterday. This morning I called again." Hanna Fatuk extended the picture frame toward Ben's outstretched hand. Her fingers were still trembling after he took it. She laced them together in what could have been a position of prayer. "And now you are here. Haududallah !" The look of utter reverence she gave him embarrassed Ben because it was pure luck that had led him to the Fatuk home in the center of Jericho this morning. He happened to be walking past the desks where calls to the ancient city's Palestinian police headquarters came in when Hanna Fatuk phoned; he could hearthe anguish in her shrill voice through a receiver six feet away. He had the call transferred to his office before he even knew what it was about. This in spite of the fact that he hadn't worked on a case himself in over six months. Ben sipped some more of his tea, his teeth filtering the cooling liquid through the mint leaves that floated on top, and studied the missing girl's picture again. It was a casual pose, catching Leila Fatuk leaning over the kitchen table he had seen as he entered the home, dark hair tumbling leisurely over her shoulders. Her smile looked very natural, her teeth perfect and very white. He thought of the pictures of his own daughter he still kept, cherished since there would be no more, and did some fast calculations in his head. If his daughter had lived, she would have been about the same age as this missing girl. The Fatuks lived on the outskirts of Jericho in a two-story stone house that showed the rectangular abutments of several additions made as the family grew. Based on the home's age and the number of additions, Ben could tell it had been in the family for several generations. He had passed through a gate at the edge of the property into a garden full of roses and geraniums. Ivylike vines wrapped themselves about the front of the house, adding to the fresh and succulent aroma that had greeted him. Inside, that scent was replaced by a strong, fresh smell Ben recognized as malfulf , a cabbage dish stuffed with rice. He remembered the same smell as a child, both in Detroit and Nablus. His eyes looked up at Hanna Fatuk and her husband, Amir. They were holding hands now. Another man, big and brawny, wearing a wrinkled white shirt untucked, hanging over his trousers, hovered by the window. Arms crossed. Sneering. The impatient look of a man already late for work. Ben hadn't been introducedto him yet, but guessed he was a relative. The number of plates stacked neatly in the kitchen sink indicated he had joined the Fatuks for breakfast. The lack of other place settings told Ben the older generation that had once shared this house had passed on, just as he assumed that the two young men pictured with Amir and Hanna Fatuk on the wall must have moved off on their own. "Umm and Abu Fatuk," Ben began, "there are questions I must ask you. Some of them might be uncomfortable and I want to apologize in advance." "There is no need, sidi ," Amir Fatuk said humbly. "Inspector will do. Please." "Inspector," Amir repeated. Ben nodded, flipped open his notebook. "Why don't you wear a uniform?" Ben turned toward the big man still standing by the window. "Excuse me?" "You are a policeman, but you don't wear a uniform." "I'm a detective." "I know what you are. I know who you are." "And who are you?" The man gestured toward Hanna Fatuk. "Her brother. The missing girl's uncle." "What's your name?" "What does it matter?" "You said you knew who I was. I'd just like to know who you are." "Nazir Jalabad. I came to watch the great Bayan Kamal, the famous hero. I came to watch you do nothing like the rest of them." The man made a slight spitting motion. "Three days, it takes three days before they send you over so you can ask your useless questions. Like always." Ben felt something scratch at his spine. "This has happened before?" "Not with my Leila," Hanna Fatuk answered. "Pleaseexcuse my brother's temper, but he is her godfather." "How old is your daughter?" "Thirteen. My youngest. Her brothers are gone. One lives in Jordan." "Then this picture ..." "Taken over a year ago. But it is still a close likeness." "She left the house at what time Monday?" "Nine o'clock at night. She was going to the store on an errand." Hanna Fatuk's hands shook a little. "I ... sent her." "What store?" "The grocer up the street. Number ninety-one." "Six blocks away," Ben noted. "That means she disappeared within five minutes of leaving here. But you said the grocer never saw her." "No. No one saw her after she left the house." "Always the same," Nazir Jalabad snickered. "The damn Israelis never leave witnesses." "Why do you think the Israelis are responsible?" Ben asked him. "Everyone knows their soldiers steal our girls. Take them back to their bases, have their way with them, and then drop them off whenever they are finished. Usually not this young, though. They must be getting desperate." Hanna Fatuk shuddered at her brother's comment. "There are no longer Israeli patrols active in Jericho," Ben said, but he didn't sound very convincing. The truth was, withdrawing from Jericho and other cities in the West Bank had done little to curb the power of the Israeli army and at times seemed to only increase it. Patrols continued to ride in whenever they liked, although they didn't stay very long. The homes of suspected terrorists were still bulldozed, entire villages punished for the crimes of the few terrorists who seemed as determined to destroy their own people as the Israelis. The big man snickered. "They are still here. Everyoneknows. For a while the girls filed reports. They stopped bothering when none of your police would listen." "You know someone else this happened to?" "I've heard about it." Ben returned his attention to the Fatuks. "Has your daughter ever been gone for a time before?" "No." "And she had no reason to run away that you're aware of?" "No!" Hanna Fatuk said. "Of course not!" "I'll need to take this with me," Ben said, realizing he was still holding on to the picture. "Do you have any others?" "Recently, just of Leila with a school group." "Hanna," her husband interrupted. "They were part of an exchange program with an Israeli school in Jerusalem." "He doesn't have to hear about that," Amir Fatuk said, sounding embarrassed. "I told you it was a bad idea." "Not to Inspector Kamal," sneered the hulking Nazir Jalabad. "He is a great believer in the benefits of peace." "I'm going to need a list of your daughter's friends," Ben said to the Fatuks, ignoring him. "People she spent time with outside of this house. Teachers, too. Anyone she might have had contact with." "That night?" "Anytime," Ben told Hanna Fatuk. "Also anyone who might have a reason to harm either of you." "You think ..." "I don't think anything. Not yet. We simply must cover all the possibilities." And the possibilities, Ben had to acknowledge to himself, were not pleasant. Once a child had been missing this long, the odds of her returning on her own diminished significantly. He wondered whatwould have happened if he had taken Hanna Fatuk's call on Tuesday instead of today. "We have no enemies," Amir Fatuk said staunchly. "What is your job?" Ben asked Amir. "I am a mechanic. Cars." "I'll need a list of all your customers as well." "Why?" "Because I assume your daughter has been to your shop, where someone may have seen her." Back in Detroit, Ben would have gathered the assembled lists and run all the names through a computer. And, if he was lucky, the names of several possible suspects would emerge. But in Jericho no such database existed. The closest thing to it remained the files the Israelis turned over, which often had no listings for crimes actually committed, and hundreds of listings for crimes that either never happened or were exaggerated to provide cause for arrest and incarceration. And that was assuming he could gain access to them, which these days was hardly a foregone conclusion, since he was no longer considered an investigator. Amir Fatuk shrugged. "She's been to my shop a few times." "And I want you both to think of vehicles you may have seen that didn't belong in the neighborhood." "The day she disappeared?" Hanna Fatuk asked him. "As far back as you can remember." "Anything else?" Hanna Fatuk asked him. Ben turned toward Nazir Jalabad. "You said before that other girls have disappeared." "Ask anybody." "I'm asking you." "I already told you." "Not names, you didn't." "I don't know names." "But you can find out, can't you?" "Why should I do your job for you?" "Because your goddaughter is missing." "Wait," said Hanna Fatuk suddenly, "I just remembered something else ... ." Copyright (c) 1999 by Jon Land Excerpted from The Pillars of Solomon by Jon Land All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.