Exile by Richard North Patterson

 

Suspense

Exile ExileRichard North Patterson; Henry Holt and Co. 2007WorldCat

When does history begin?

David Wolfe is an American Jewish lawyer in San Francisco. He and his fiancee had just attended a luncheon where the speaker was the Israeli Prime Minister then went outside to watch the Prime Minister leave for the airport. Instead, they watched in horror as a suicide bomber slid a motorcycle into the Prime Minister’s automobile, killing the motorcyclist, the Prime Minister, and the two men in the car with the Prime Minister.

Now David has been contacted by Hana Sharif, a Palestinian Arab. She, her husband Saeb Khalid, and their daughter, Munira were visiting San Francisco in protest of the Prime Minister’s visit. Hana has been accused of being the handler of the suicide bomber and is being tried as a terrorist murderer. Hana also is the woman David loved while in college and has never totally released. He believes her innocence and accepts her case although he will lose the life he has built.

David’s fiancee leaves him and he loses the respect and friendship of her father, a Holocaust survivor. His other clients leave him because he is representing a terrorist in America. Most of his friends desert him for the same reason. He himself only has Hana’s word that she is innocent. He wants to believe that she was framed but doesn’t know how he can prove it enough to give a jury reasonable doubt. There is more at stake than just her life. David’s fact-finding takes him to Israel and the West Bank. He quickly learns that there are no easy solutions for peace there and the assassination of the Prime Minister has made a peaceful solution even more difficult. David experiences life in that section of the Middle East at first hand, learning what happens when people struggle over their land and homes.

Exile is a suspense novel that is also an examination of the Israeli and Palestinian conflict over the West Bank and the Middle East. Although the book is written from a Jew’s viewpoint (David is the protagonist), Richard North Patterson draws an extensive picture of both sides of the conflict. Those of us Americans who only read headlines and comfortable books can’t know or understand what life is like there. This is not a comfortable novel. As Patterson pulls the reader further into his real world populated by fictional characters, the reader (or at least I) realizes there will be no simple, happy solution for the main characters. Win or lose, David Wolfe, Hana Sharif, Saeb Khalid, and Munira Khalid will suffer and have difficult decisions to make.

This book is a slow, involved read. Many times it drags, losing my attention even though I was interested in the story. I was given an advanced reader’s copy to review so wouldn’t give in to my impulse to skip the second half of the book and jump to the end. It’s a good thing I didn’t give in to my impulse. The second half is as packed with surprises as the first. This is not a book I can say I like. Instead, this is a book that makes me think and to remember there is more to the world than my little cocoon. It’s one I won’t forget for a while. Meanwhile, the main question it poses is one to consider:

When does history begin?

Notice: Graphic violence

More books by Richard North Patterson

Publicist provided for review

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