Victor (Absence of Pain, 1988; Misplaced Lives, 1990) doles out a plodding dull-o-drama of terrorist intrigue in the Middle East. A Palestinian bomb blows up at the Rome airport, sending arms and legs flying through the air and bruising Sasha Beale's elbow. Sasha, ``committed and tough and brave'' investigative TV reporter determines to get to the bottom of it. When it's discovered that one Karame, shadowy leader of a homelander gang--so despicable that they even promise marriage to their young pregnant girlfriends and put them on planes they blow up--Sasha vows to interview him. Meanwhile, unknown to her, a cabal of dedicated, old-time Israeli shooters is also on the hunt. In a cameo, Golda Meir, doing a yenta impression (``No one speaks Hebrew here tonight, or maybe it's my American accent?'') gives them a For the Gipper rave-up. From the Israeli A-team, Gideon, 45, square of jaw, cleft of chin, is assigned to watch Sasha. When he contrives to bump into her jogging, the race is on: Will Sasha get to Karame before he packs his tent and steals away into the night or will she be thrown off the scent by passion? After a few paragraphs of description, all visual and other impressions of the land of the Bible disappear for 200 pages, and talking heads prevail, leaving dramatic action dead in the water. Finally, at book's end, Karame gets his, and the earth moves for Sasha and Gideon. Although the author has wound the key in her character's backs and set them in motion toward a goal, their hollowness and mechanical insides are apparent. Sophomoric.