Two American Foreign Service officers are recalled from private life only to be taken hostage in the Middle East--in this would-be suspenser (and first novel). The opening scene describes a brutal Israeli army action in a West Bank village, culminating in two Arab deaths; it's powerful but misleading, because Jones (an American Consul) is much less interested in Arabs or Israelis than in professional diplomats in global hot-spots, guys like Ward Longman and Will Yarden. A Foreign Service retiree, 51-year-old Ward is going to seed in Fredericksburg, Virginia, having been dumped by wife Judy, while in South Dakota the much younger Will is in no better shape--during his last posting, in Israel, his wife and baby were killed when their bus was firebombed. But State taps them both for a six-week surveillance of Professor Karim Hassan, a Palestinian moderate and US citizen in danger from extremists. The assignment revitalizes the two men as they travel with Hassan through Lisbon and Rome to Israel; Ward is especially chipper, having just fallen in love with a Fredericksburg neighbor, Karen Scott, while Will begins a hot romance with Israeli escort Misha. The time is June 1990--pre-Gulf War, pre-peace talks, pre-hostage release, and light-years away from today's Middle East. But as damaging as the novel's having been outpaced by history is the slow setup: we're past the two- thirds point when the diplomats are kidnapped in Jerusalem, on the orders of wolf-in-sheep's-clothing Hassan. After a brief ordeal, they're rescued by an Israeli officer and return to Washington as heroes; Ward is reunited with Karen, and Misha follows Will stateside. One-dimensional people in an oddly parochial story--parochial because Jones is as much exercised by the dog-eat-dog atmosphere of today's Foreign Service as by the greater agony of the Middle East.