Plot-soggy sins-of-the-father tale that, like Gordon's debut, Sacrifice of Isaac (1995), tarts up conventional thriller melodramatics in densely layered ethical and religious complexities.Yale Law School student Allison Rosenthal's breezy, name-brand casual summers on Martha's Vineyard end forever when her wealthy father, Ronald, a shadowy, tough-talking broker for an Israeli weapons manufacturer, is arrested in America for selling arms to Bosnian Muslims in defiance of a UN trade embargo. Though Allison, whose grandparents were Holocaust survivors, has tried to distance herself from her father's business (as well as from his staunchly pro-Israeli politics), she knows that he's is guilty as charged, acting on secret orders from the White House. Unfortunately, the Justice Department wants to make an example of Ronald Rosenthal, and selects as its line prosecutor David "Dee" Treat Dennis, an ambitious New England WASP whose father is White House counsel. Dee and Allison had a passionate teenage romance on the Vineyard dunes a decade ago; the fires are still smoldering. Though Dee should recuse himself, he doesn't. It's enough that Allison wants to save her father—Gordon piles on pointless debates about the plight of assimilated Jews, the profit motives of arms manufacturers, and whether Allison is reliving the biblical Book of Esther. Wait—there's more: relentless reporter Nicky Dymitryck breaks into Allison's house in hopes of blackmailing her to help him bring down vile Greg Eastbrook, former Army Colonel and associate of Allison's father, who is now running for the Senate. An appearance by Peter Chevejon, the suave international crook from Gordon's first novel, doesn't help. Too many intricate, deviously charming characters can't stop themselves from making glibly patronizing speeches ("Arms are like roaches in a restaurant . . . , " says Nicky, "If you see them during business, you'll never see just one"). Such meditations are poor stand-ins for the action and derring-do that the genre demands.
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