Cover image for Keepers of the gate
Keepers of the gate
Land, Jon.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Forge, 2001.
Physical Description:
336 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Format :


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Martin Ritt has been hailed as the United States's greatest maker of social films. From No Down Payment early in his career to Stanley and Iris , his last production, he delineated the nuances of American society. In between were other social statements such as Hud , Sounder , The Spy Who Came In From the Cold , Norma Rae , and The Great White Hope .

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The fourth Ben Kamal-Danielle Barnea mystery begins with a suicide that may be murder, the capture of a notorious fugitive, and an invention of something that could revolutionize the way war is fought. Things get more complicated quickly, as we learn that the murder of Holocaust survivors may be connected to the deaths of Israeli high-school students. This is a big, convoluted mystery propelled by a genuinely compelling plot and its likable lead characters (Kamal is a Palestinian cop, Barnea a member of the Israeli National Police). We enjoy watching these smart, efficient detectives sort out what's what, and we enjoy watching the author have fun with his bigger-than-life plot, carefully calculating how far he can go without turning his story into a cartoon. Readers unfamiliar with the earlier installments in the series can still enjoy this one, but to catch some of the nuances (especially concerning the difficult cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian police), it's perhaps best to start at the beginning (The Walls of Jericho, 1997). Either way, this is a lively and well-told yarn, sure to please fans of high-concept thrillers. --David Pitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

A mysterious killer who is targeting Holocaust survivors sends detective Ben Kamal a Palestinian-American who has been working on the West Bank for six years and his Israeli sidekick, Danielle Barnea, down a labyrinthine trail of conspiracy and deception in Land's (A Walk in the Darkness, etc.) latest installment in this ongoing series. Corpses litter the Middle East landscape throughout this action-packed story, but once the initial victims surface the investigation splits into two parts one involving a group of Nazi hunters who emerge in the middle of the ongoing detective work, the other dealing with a separate string of murders in which the victims are clever high school students who organize a high-level blackmail operation targeting Israeli companies. The link between the two is Paul Hessler, a wealthy company owner whose shady past also dates back to the Holocaust, and who becomes a blackmail target after the murder of his son helps his firm make a startling medical discovery that could save the lives of millions, including the genetically damaged child that Barnea is carrying. Land is adept at gauging the unique effects the Mideastern culture and history will have on the emotions and motivations of his protagonists, but he spends precious few pages developing the complex relationship between Kamal and Barnea as they narrow the list of suspects to a small group whose past intersects with the liberation of a concentration camp. What the book lacks in terms of character development, however, the author makes up for through a series of innovative plot twists that take the story in some intriguing directions. Land's penchant for overplotting mutes the impact of the surprise ending, but those who enjoyed the earlier Kamal/Barnea outings should find this a satisfying read. Agent, Toni Mendez. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



Chapter One     "I'm sorry for the intrusion," Danielle Barnea said to the woman seated on the couch before her. "This won't take very long."     Layla Saltzman nodded stiffly, as if it were something she had gotten quite used to doing in recent weeks. Her face was expressionless, her eyes dry and cried out. Dull brown hair hung over her face in stray locks she had given up caring about. The house, squeezed amidst other modest one- and two-story stucco-finished homes in the Jerusalem suburb of Har Adar, smelled of stale coffee and burned pastry.     Six days before, Layla Saltzman's seventeen-year-old son Michael had committed suicide. Before the case could be officially closed, a final interview was required to make sure the facts in question were all in order. Normally this would have been a matter for local authorities--in this instance the Jerusalem police--but all cases involving a firearm were automatically referred to National Police. And Danielle's superior, the commissioner or Rav nitzav Moshe Baruch, had elected not to refer it back even after suicide became apparent.     Now, seated in the suicide victim's living room, Danielle found her eyes wandering to the framed pictures adorning the coffee table between her chair and the couch on which the boy's mother sat. All showed Michael Saltzman in various poses through the years. Tennis racquet in his left hand, wearing a summer camp T-shirt. Baseball glove and uniform. His Bar Mitzvah. There was still plenty of space atop the table, but there would be no more pictures to fill it.     Her gaze lingered for a time on one shot that pictured Michael between his parents, an arm tossed casually around both their shoulders. The angle of the room's light gave Danielle a clear view of her own face, in effect projecting herself into the picture. Now that she was pregnant once again, she found comfort in the thought she might fill her own coffee table with photos some day. The comfort was short lived, though, as she reflected that the child's father in her pictures would be missing.     Danielle studied herself in the glass, seeing a youngish thirty-five year old, her face unlined by wrinkles, athletic and robust. She wore her wavy brown hair the same way she had in college, because it framed her full face better than any of the more contemporary styles would. How strange. Despite her professional reputation as a progressive innovator, she was, in this respect anyway, truly a creature of the past.     "Chief Inspector?"     Distracted, Danielle shuffled the folder on her lap and the forensics photos spilled out onto the living room rug. She stooped to retrieve them and watched Layla Saltzman's expression waver as she peered at the pictures through the coffee table's glass top. Danielle noticed she was wearing on her wrist a man's watch with a broken face.     "I'm sorry," Danielle said, sticking the photos in the rear of the folder. "Just a few more questions, I promise."     Layla Saltzman nodded.     "You were away the day of ... the incident."     "I was at work."     Danielle gazed again at the picture of Michael standing between his two parents, everybody smiling. "And your husband?"     "We're divorced. He moved back to the United States. Remarried a woman with three young children. He returned to them the day after the funeral."     "I'm sorry."     Layla Saltzman shrugged as if she were tired of hearing that.     Danielle continued scanning the case report. "So the last time you spoke to your son ..."     "At breakfast the day he ..." Layla Saltzman's voice trailed off and she cleared her throat. "He seemed fine."     Danielle nodded, returning her focus to the case.     "I need to ask you about the gun, Mrs. Saltzman."     "He knew where it was kept, how to use it. Just in case. My husband wanted him to know. With the crime rates what they are here now, well ... I forgot we even had it. Maybe if I had remembered and gotten rid of the damn thing ..."     Layla Saltzman laced her hands together and wrung them raw. Danielle looked at her, trying to relate. She would have been a single mother now too, had she not miscarried her first pregnancy. And she fully intended to raise her new baby by herself. But the sight of the woman on the couch across from her started Danielle thinking. Layla Saltzman was alone now and would more than likely stay that way. Her child's father had been six thousand miles away when the boy died.     The father of Danielle's unborn child lived barely thirty miles from Jerusalem, yet she had decided to keep him out of the child's life. She tried to imagine herself on the other side of an interview like this. Alone, with nothing but photos to remind her it had not always been that way.     Layla Saltzman raised her arm and twisted it around to show Danielle the watch with the broken face. "This was Michael's watch. A present from his girlfriend last year. I was thinking about giving it back to her. Do you think I should?"     "If it makes you feel better," Danielle tried lamely.     "Nothing makes me feel better, Chief Inspector. That's the point." Layla Saltzman's eyes gestured toward Danielle's folder. "Does it say in there what a wonderful student Michael was? Does it say he spent a semester at a special cooperative school for Israelis and Palestinians outside of Jerusalem in Abu Gosh? Does it say what a tremendous soccer player he was, that American universities were sending him letters to recruit him? I didn't want him to go because that meant he'd be closer to his father than to me. Does it say that in there?"     Danielle remembered her preliminary study of Michael Saltzman's file. "There was mention of the incident involving your son's friend," she said, imagining herself having to live in a world of stale coffee and forced smiles in eighteen years time. No one to sit next to her, thanks to the decision she thought she had finally put behind her.     Layla Saltzman nodded. "Yes, a girl named Beth Jacober from Tel Aviv. They were close. I don't know how close, you understand." Her voice broke slightly. "Michael met her at his new school, the cooperative. She was killed in a car accident a week before he ..."     "Mrs. Saltzman, you don't have to--"     "Everyone thinks Michael did it because he was depressed about Beth. I guess the two of them could have been closer than I thought. Who can tell with kids these days?" She balled her hands into tight fists and cradled them in her lap. "I--I didn't go to Beth's funeral with him; he didn't want me to. Michael wasn't depressed. He was dealing with Beth's death, he was coping." She flashed her son's watch with the broken face again. "It doesn't work anymore, but I still wear it."     Danielle looked at Michael Saltzman's watch, at the pictures of him on the coffee table featuring a family that would never be together again, that had squandered its chances.     Was this the kind of life she wanted for herself and her child?     Danielle flipped through the folder once more, finding the crime scene photos and the report filed in obligatory fashion by the case officers. Studied the photo picturing the nine millimeter pistol just out of the grasp of the dead boy's fingers.     "He wasn't wearing the watch when he died," she said vacantly.     Layla Saltzman shook her head. "No. It was on his dresser. I forgot to put it on his wrist for the funeral, then threw it across the room when I got home. That's when it broke." Something that passed for serenity spread briefly over her expression. "No one asked me about that before."     Danielle felt a jolt of recognition as she realized something no one else must have. She looked back at the collection of pictures on the glass coffee table, past the one of Michael with his arms around both his parents' shoulders, to the picture of the boy tossing a tennis ball into the air for the serve. Focused on him holding his racquet, ready to swipe it down in a wide booming are.     "Is something wrong, Chief Inspector?" Layla Saltzman asked her.     "No," Danielle said, knowing no sense lay in saying anything to the woman yet, not until she was sure. "Nothing at all." Excerpted from Keepers of the Gate by JON LAND. Copyright © 2001 by Jon Land. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.