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Gordon (The Rabbi, The Death Committee) has enough notions here for two or three novels; but none of them is fully realized, and the result is a readable but not very satisfying m‚lange of suspense, romance, family saga, Jewish-identitycrisis, Biblical archaeology, and Israel travelogue. At the center of it all is unhappily married Harry Hopeman of Manhattan, latest in a 500-year Jewish dynasty of top-drawer diamond cutters, setters, and sellers. Harry's general malaise is exploded when he is begged by a Zionist friend to represent Israel in the purchase of the huge, yellow Jerusalem Diamond--a gem that found its way from the hidden treasure of Solomon's Temple to the Vatican and then, via theft, to the late King Farouk, whose henchman is now putting it up for sale. (Besides Israel, the Arabs and the Pope are also bidding for it.) Harry's attempts to negotiate with the elusive Farouk henchman lead him all over scenic Israel, accompanied by Israeli government agent Tamar Strauss, a gorgeous Yemenite war widow. And interwoven with the Harry/Tamar romantic rovings are flashbacks to the parallel histories of the Hopeman clan and the Jerusalem Diamond--as well as some Israeli domestic vignettes and the progress of an archaeologist who's looking for the rest of that Temple treasure. None of this is uninteresting, but the pieces of the mosaic never grip together in a pattern, and the book never gathers much momentum. Nor does it help that the novel's key secret is hinted at much too loudly on page 25; that the problematic Harry/Tamar affair lapses into gush; or that Harry's eventual Zionist awakening verges on sloganeering. Still, the diamond details are shinily faceted indeed, and the Biblical digs exert their usual fascination. An okay entertainment that should have been much better.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1979
Publisher: Random House