A Justice Department attorney who’s worked for 20 years on its Israeli litigation offers a maybe true/maybe not look at the trail of the money that might have financed Iran’s nuclear program.
Munich, 1990. When Raymond DeLouise, who fled the failing First Federal Bank of Westwood with its last $90 million in tow, is shot down in a crowded street, Romanian-born Bruno Popescu and Israeli Dov Peled die at the same moment. That’s because DeLouise has been leading three lives, playing Americans and Israelis off each other while laundering an unholy amount of cash. It doesn’t take long for Mossad-trained Dan Gordon, a Justice Department attorney who specializes in recovery investigations, to work out DeLouise’s three identities. But the revelation that what at first appears a routine case of money laundering is actually a complicated scheme to funnel dollars to Iran for a nuclear reactor, plutonium, and all the rest is delayed by three obstacles. First is the kidnapping of Ariel Peled, DeLouise’s daughter, by thugs who demand the mysterious papers her father left behind. Second are the layers of cutouts between DeLouise and the money’s ultimate destination, which Dan unravels with commendable patience. Third is Dan’s compulsion to tiresome exposition, often by interjecting bromides from his Mossad trainers into potentially suspenseful scenes till the authentic detail leaches away the suspense. Newcomer Carmon, who doesn’t seem familiar with any espionage fiction since James Bond, pooh-poohs the possibility that a regular guy like Dan could ever get involved firsthand with blondes or bombs. But unarmed Dan ends up getting knocked out, defeating armed antagonists twice, saving the world and winning the love of an improbably wealthy and beautiful woman. Go figure.
Already a bestseller in Israel, we’re told. A sequel is in the works, presumably one with a bit less fact-based tradecraft and a bit more urgency.