Cover image for Blood diamonds
Blood diamonds
Land, Jon.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Forge, 2002.
Physical Description:
383 pages ; 25 cm
General Note:
"A Tom Doherty Associates book."
Geographic Term:
Format :


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X Adult Fiction Open Shelf
X Adult Fiction Open Shelf

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The West African country of Sierra Leone has long been known as a diamond-rich area. With civil war ripping the heart out of the country, all aspects of life there are unstable. Worst of all, guerrilla rebels, in their lust for the resource-rich land, have sunk to depravity and terrorism to evict people from the country.
It's into this maelstrom of political and emotional turmoil that Ben and Danielle must go. The leader of the rebels, a fanatical and charismatic woman known only as the Dragon, is not content with ravaging her own country. She plans a final coup that will perfect her power and topple Western governments-unless Ben and Danielle can stop her in time.

Author Notes

Jon Land is the author of four previous novels in this series, Pillars of Solomon, Walls of Jericho, A Walk in the Darkness and Keepers of the Gate . He lives in Providence, Rhode Island.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

The fifth Ben Kamal-Danielle Barnea novel begins with the partnership between the Palestinian and Israeli detectives in disarray. Danielle is in jail, accused of murdering a superior officer. Can Ben help her clear her name? And can Kamal and Barnea defeat an evil warlord before she destroys the governments of the Western world? As usual, the story's plot is somewhat James Bondish--the villain, who calls herself the Dragon, plans to finance her evil plans with "blood diamonds," unfinished stones smuggled into Israel from Africa--but the author never lets it go too far over the top. Similarly, the narrative gets a bit cartoony ("The Dragon gnashed her teeth and waited"), but Land always pulls it back from the brink of disaster. Kamal and Barnea, the Palestinian cop and the Israeli pakad (chief inspector), make a good team, and the author peppers the novel with insights into Middle Eastern culture. Despite its flaws, this is a solid entry in a series that consistently uses setting as an integral part of the story. --David Pitt

Publisher's Weekly Review

Land packs a load of information and action into his fifth thriller (after 2001's Keepers of the Gate), in which Palestinian-American detective Ben Kamal and his unlikely partner and lover, Israeli detective Danielle Barnea, battle a female Sierra Leone rebel leader with global designs. On the plus side are Kamal and Barnea, both touching and accessible characters with enough backstory to make them interesting, but not too much to overexplain them (although in Kamal's case it becomes a near thing, especially in flashback scenes from his father's life). There are also some sharp political insights into how prospects in the Middle East have deteriorated since the series began; as Kamal's friend and mentor Colonel al-Asi grimly recalls, "The cooperative ventures you and Barnea worked on were symbols of peace when it still seemed possible." The action scenes are as plentiful and professionally rendered as ever, ranging this time from Israel's West Bank and a doomed Russian town to a bloody Sierra Leone landscape where the rebel leader (known as the Dragon) trades her country's uncut diamonds for weapons of supreme terror. But Land interrupts the flow of his narrative by constantly cutting from one set of players to another each cut is soon predictable by its length and by the cliff-hanging clichs that end most chapters. There's also an impossible-to-kill villain, whose near-magic reappearances will irk readers. Established fans will probably overlook the flaws, but newcomers might wonder what the previous fuss was all about. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved



CHAPTER 1 The ancient truck rumbled down the street toward the open warehouse. A bearded Palestinian wearing a keffiyah rose from a chair set in the shade of an adjacent alleyway and stepped to the curb, watching as the truck's bald tires scraped to a halt atop the rubble-strewn street. None of the residents of the West Bank town of Beit Jala could remember the last time the roads had been cleaned; not since Israeli tanks had left them cracked and broken in a parade-like show of force months before, that was certain. The passenger side of the truck faced the warehouse, and a burly man with bulging, hairy forearms leaned out the window. "Vasily Anatolyevich at your service, comrade." Anatolyevich extended a meaty hand out the window and grasped the Palestinian's in a powerful grip that belied his years. He appeared to be between sixty and seventy with a shock of sterling silver hair brushed straight back and light blue eyes that looked strangely joyful. His skin was smooth and unfurrowed, pale except for a spider web of purplish veins that crisscrossed his nose and stretched across his cheeks. "Any problems at the checkpoint?" the tall and sinewy Palestinian asked Anatolyevich. Just as his face wasted no expression, his frame carried no extra fat or flesh. "I told you, comrade," Anatolyevich said with a wink and pulled his hand away, "we paid a premium for these papers, one of the advantages of being Israeli citizens. The officers at the checkpoint believe we're carrying supplies for Gilo," he added in his thick Russian accent, referring to a nearby Jewish West Bank neighborhood that had been annexed to Jerusalem. "Your name, comrade, I don't think I--" "Abu." "That's all?" "It's enough." Anatolyevich smiled again, a bit forced this time. "So long as the payment you brought is enough, eh, comrade?" "Once I inspect the goods." The Palestinian who called himself Abu ruffled a hand through his thick beard. "Inside." With that he gestured to the front of the warehouse where two other Palestinians wearing thin jackets had slid open a large bay. Anatolyevich squinted into the dark interior and nodded. "Whatever you say, comrade. We need to hurry, though. I have another appointment I can't be late for." "Business must be good." Anatolyevich smiled. "Better than ever." The Russian's driver backed the truck inside the warehouse in a series of fits and jolts. The man who called himself Abu walked beside the passenger window the whole time, as if to act as guide. His two companions slid the bay door closed behind the truck, sealing the large single room from all light except for a few old fixtures dangling from the ceiling, the bulbs of which flickered reluctantly to life. Shafts of sunlight spilled in through some scattered windows and a few rays penetrated the crumbling ceiling as well. Pierced months before by stray shells fired from Israeli helicopter gunships that had strafed the street after Palestinian machine gun fire shattered windows in nearby Gilo. Anatolyevich and his driver climbed down from the cab and joined one of the Palestinians at the truck's rear. Anatolyevich hoisted open the rear hatch to reveal a number of wooden crates and plastic tubular-shaped containers, innocuous save for the Russian markings along the sides. "As promised," Anatolyevich beamed at Abu who had reappeared by his side. The Palestinian reached past him and drew one of the crates forward. "One hundred and forty-four Kalashnikov assault rifles," Anatolyevich narrated, as Abu popped the crate open, "packed one dozen per crate. Ammunition included in separate boxes, as requested. I threw in some extra as a sign of good faith." Abu ignored the Russian's smile and tested the weight of the Kalashnikov. "Freshly oiled," he noted. "And why not, comrade? After all, the guns are brand new. Never fired. Russian military issue, of which there is now extremely little need. Bad for the military of my former country. Good for business." The Palestinian looked up at the arms dealer from where he squatted next to the rifles. "Apparently." The Russian shrugged. "The military's loss is our gain, eh, comrade? They will never miss something they never had." "What about the rocket launchers?" Anatolyevich reached past him into the truck's cargo bay and yanked one of the plastic containers forward. His bulging stomach pressed against the hold of the truck as he strained against the container's weight, finally succeeding in bringing it to the edge at the expense of a slight scratch on the face of his gold Rolex watch. It didn't seem to phase him. Abu watched silently as the Russian peeled back two latches and then popped the container open. "This is our latest model," he proclaimed proudly. "Not even issued to the Russian army yet." He grinned again. "Shipment has been delayed. Apparently my former government is behind on their payments!" The Palestinian happily examined the tubular launcher and the rocket fitted into a tailored slot just beneath it. "The Israeli tanks and helicopter gunships have finally met their match, eh comrade?" Abu returned his attention to the rocket launcher. "I might want more of these." "As many as you like! Buy ten, I'll throw in one for free. Business is good. I can afford to be generous." "With the prices you charge, I'm not surprised." "Speaking of prices, comrade…" Abu signaled one of his two subordinates who stripped a tattered rucksack from his back. "In American dollars, as instructed," he said, as the man handed it to Anatolyevich. The Russian held the sack by his side, not bothering to open it. "You're not going to count it?" Abu asked. "Later over a vodka, while I go over your new shopping list. You should join me." "Israel's borders are still closed to us." "Precisely why I brought a bottle with me. I have it in the cab." Anatolyevich started round the truck, brushing past the Palestinian who'd been holding the rucksack full of money. The man's jacket was pulled back slightly, exposing a pistol held in a shoulder holster. The Russian smiled at him, then at Abu again before climbing back into the cab. He reached quickly across the seat, ducking his hand down and scraping it across the floor mat. "Looking for this?" the man who called himself Abu asked from the window, holding a submachine gun up for the Russian to see. "The vodka, comrade," the Russian said and forced a smile. "I was reaching for the vodka." "It was in the glove compartment," the Palestinian said, holding the bottle up in his other hand. "I--" "You saw the pistol in Sergeant Khaled's holster. A Beretta nine-millimeter you recognized as standard issue for the Palestinian police. We used to get them from the Israelis." "You…" "I am Inspector Bayan Kamal of the Palestinian police." Ben Kamal laid the bottle of vodka on the warehouse floor. Still holding the submachine gun, he used his free hand to strip off his keffiyah and fake beard. "And you, Vasily Anatolyevich, are under arrest for illegal trafficking in firearms." Copyright © 2002 by Jon Land Excerpted from Blood Diamonds 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.