MacKinnon, in his first novel, has wrought a fine, convoluted thriller that should appeal to John le Carre fans. In 1977 Teheran, during the waning days of the Shah's Great Civilization, an Israeli engineer is gunned down in the street. Veteran American reporter Jim Morgan thinks it's another random terrorist killing; Israeli intelligence man Ariel Netzer wonders how the engineer, an Israeli spy, was found out and what the motive was for the murder. Morgan and Netzer begin looking, separately, for the escaped assassin Hoseyn, apparently a young member of a Muslim fundamentalist sect. The trails lead through Europe and the Middle East and converge bloodily in an Iranian port town. Mullahs, terrorists, industrialists and the dreaded SAVAK all become tangled in an intrigue involving Iran's possible nuclear capability. The danger of Beirut, then a ``backwater'' for news, and the corruption of Teheran are starkly drawn, and the cast of characters is rich, even if none of them is particularly nice. A lovely debut. MacKinnon is the former director of the American Institute of Iranian Studies in Teheran. Foreign rights: Paula Diamond. February 6
Jim Morgan, an American journalist, is on to something. The story of a killing in Tehran is silenced. Who is doing the silencing? Why? In the turbulent Middle East just prior to Khomeyni's rise, is it a matter of any importance? As Morgan gets closer to the truth, endangering himself and his contacts, it becomes clear that the secret reaches deep into the Israeli and Iranian security networks. Will Morgan find the truth before they find him? Amazing complexity almost detracts from the wonderful intensity of this novel. But eventually the many layers are woven together intricately but realistically. This book successfully combines aspects of investigative journalism, murder mysteries, suspense thrillers, and spy fiction. Andrew Peters, Pioneer Multi-County Lib., Norman, Okla.