However unhappy his retirement from the Jerusalem police has been, former Deputy Commander Avram Cohen (The Cutting Room, 1993, etc.) doesn't intend to get dragged back into an investigation just because an influential somebody cracks a whip. So when powerful banking head Raphael Levi-Tsur's secretary phones asking Cohen to look into the disappearance of Levi-Tsur's grandson Simon, Cohen hangs up, and when the great man himself comes calling with the secretary in tow, Cohen turns his back on them. Not interested. It's only three days later, when police minister David Nahmani suavely offers to swap preferment for an unfairly exiled protÇgÇ of Cohen's for his taking charge of the case, that Cohen finally agrees. And by then it's too late, since hedonistic Simon has been killed in the no-man's-land of the suburban desert after disappearing from a nocturnal pilgrimage with an obliging Tel Aviv prostitute to the Western Wall. The motif of tough worldliness crossed with incongruous but equally tough religiosity pursues Cohen as, haunted by remorse for his delay, he tracks errant Simon's involvement with a born-again Orthodox burglar, a missing treasure in gold, and a museum theft four years ago that netted an irreplaceable haul--the golden crowns of King Herod. Written in the shadow of the Hebron massacre, Rosenberg's chilling vision of a dozen warring national and religious parties--each serenely convinced of its absolute justification- -has been confirmed rather than dated by the Rabin assassination.