A Palestine Affair
The time is 1924, and British Mandate Palestine is filling up with a dangerous mix of European Zionists hoping to found a Jewish state among the Arabs, and men whose lives have been marred by the War to End All Wars. Mark Bloomberg comes from London to paint Zionist propaganda. As he stands one night before the cottage he and his American goy wife Joyce have just occupied, a man in Arab garb stumbles into their garden and dies in Bloomberg’s arms having murmured an Arab’s name. Nothing is as it seems: the man, stabbed to the heart, is not an Arab but an orthodox Jew from Holland seeking homosexual liaisons. Robert Kirsch, come to investigate from the British police force, struggles with his own Jewishness while he carries on a steamy affair with Bloomberg’s wife. An American movie mogul films the Roman siege of Jerusalem while he covers up the smuggling of real weapons – to Jew or Arab, any who’ll pay. And Joyce is more Zionist than any of the Jews.
So it is with this novel. Though events and pacing lead one to classify it a thriller, the writing is much better, more thought provoking. Murder and mayhem are not given the twists and turns a thriller reader might want, and the characters are drawn with a literary novel’s angst. All in all, this seems the best style to capture the stresses of a neglected time period that has great repercussions today.