From Publishers Weekly
Prescient, more or less it doesn't take a prophet to forecast cyclical violence in the Middle East Bukiet's witty, engrossing novel anticipates the current resurgence of Palestinian-Israeli conflict, chronicling the derailment of the peace process after a conservative victory in the Knesset. Like an Israeli All the Kings Men recast as a thriller, the tale is told by a political aide Nathan Kazakov, a blind ex-POW, Russian immigrant, former poet, Lebanon invasion veteran, semicloseted homosexual and now speechwriter to Simon ben Levi, the charismatic right-wing prime minister (more in the mold of Benjamin Netanyahu than Ariel Sharon). Making an obvious reference to Yitzhak Rabin's assassination, the novel opens with a gun shot: a Jewish settler fires the pistol, and it is Nathan who gets a bullet in the ear. This brush with death heightens Nathan's disenchantment with Simon's politics, impelling his investigation into the assassin's real target and prompting him to search for Simon's estranged son, the enigmatic archeologist Gabriel. Bukiet (Signs and Wonders) keeps a steady level of suspense simply by capitalizing on Nathan's blindness. After encounters with colorful characters like Gita Mamoun, a philanthropic female Palestinian arms mogul and a fanatical rabbi called Moshe X, Nathan discovers a labyrinthine conspiracy code-named Strange Fire, which somehow involves Gabriel. In a region as convoluted as the Middle East, conspiracies are as central as ordinary politics, and it's almost a shame when all is finally revealed after the fascinating deployment of so many Red Sea herrings. (May)Forecast: Call this a hopped-up literary novel or an offbeat thriller either way, it defies genre labels. Mainstream thriller readers probably won't bite, but fans of clever, eccentric amateur detectives and those who follow Israeli news closely (the book will be promoted in Jewish publications) will appreciate the hero's wiles. An author tour to New York, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., should help those readers find the book.
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Bukiet's black and biting satirical fiction (After 
and Signs and Wonders )
has been well received, but this could be his breakthrough book--a smart, crisp, political page-turner. Blind, gay Russian emigre Nathan Kazakov, speechwriter for the hawkish, heartless Israeli prime minister Simon ben Levi, loses some of his remaining senses when a bullet, presumably meant for his boss, takes off his left ear. Motivated to learn the true target of the attempted assassination, Kazakov--with his marvelously honed sense of smell and the help of his doctor--is soon mired in a quest to uncover operation Strange Fire and its connection to the prime minister's dovish archaeologist son Gabriel. (The answer is not to be found, however, in the file stolen from the prime minister and labeled SF, which turns out to stand for--what else?--science fiction.) Bukiet hasn't lost his bite, with his succinct observations about the Middle East and what people will do for power, and there is tough stuff here (torture and homosexual rape) along with the humor. The protagonist is one of the most unlikely in modern fiction--but this book is a stunner. Michele LeberCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved