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Hamilton (Staircase of a Thousand Steps, 2003) tracks an American journalist in the Middle East.

Outside Beirut, on the way to interview a Lebanese crime kingpin with terrorist ties, reporter Caddie Blair survives an ambush that kills British photographer Marcus. Recovering in a dingy hospital, Caddie realizes that she has no one to notify. Marcus was her lover; her grandmother and mother are long dead, and she has few friends in Jerusalem, where she lives. If she ever had a home, it was with Marcus—he’d understood her passion for her work, and she’d admired his: he’d had an uncommon talent for capturing moments that defined the grinding conflict between Israel and the countries that surround it. But his fame was no protection against his fate—and his unknown murderers will go unpunished. Desiring a revenge she can’t take, Caddie plunges back into reporting, maintaining a careful distance, yet drawn to scenes of violence as she reflects on Marcus’s meaningless death, her parents’ long-ago abandonment of her, and her own taste for life on the razor’s edge. Fluent in Arabic, she talks to a Palestinian woman seeking treatment for her mortally injured daughter, knowing that the woman’s young son built the bomb that burned his little sister to the bone. Before the doctors realize that Caddie is American, she learns the hideous truth: there isn’t enough morphine to go around and not enough penicillin. In a restless quest to get a story—any story—she interviews Moshe Bar Lev, a militant settler. A firebomb destroys the bus they’re riding, and the settlers retaliate with gunfire, hoping to kill as many Arabs as possible. All in a day’s work . . . . Moshe returns home to dinner with his family and Caddie tags along. There’s no peace to be found—though she does find love again with a fellow journalist, himself a survivor of tragic violence.

Thoughtfully written but emotionally distant and overly cerebral.

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 2004
ISBN: 1-932961-02-X
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Unbridled Books
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 2004