In her second novel, Masha Hamilton ("Staircase of a Thousand Steps") is concerned with love, loss and renewal in the Middle East. Catherine ("Caddie") Blair, a U.S. war...
In her second novel, Masha Hamilton (“Staircase of a Thousand Steps”) is concerned with love, loss and renewal in the Middle East. Catherine (“Caddie”) Blair, a U.S. war correspondent, joins a group of Western journalists as they travel south from Beirut to interview Yaladi, a Lebanese militant. En route they are ambushed, and Caddie’s lover, Marcus, dies while trying to shield her.
Caddie returns to her apartment in Jerusalem, finds she has lost her journalistic objectivity and becomes consumed with a desire to avenge the death of Marcus.
Eventually, she meets and becomes lovers with Alexander Goronsky, a professor from Moscow who is studying “extremism.” The enigmatic man reveals that he, too, has been victimized by violence. He also confides that he has contacts among people who fund Arab extremists.
Goronsky, who is about to depart for Moscow, invites her on a short trip to Lebanon, promising to set up a meeting with Yaladi. Caddie is hesitant but also tempted by the prospect of learning the identity of those responsible for Marcus’ death. Then she can see about hiring an assassin to hunt them down.
The rest of the book deals with the choices Caddie makes and her decision as to where she belongs. Her boss has offered her a safer position in the newspaper’s New York office.
Hamilton’s graceful prose, her ability to evoke the setting and her realistic portrayal of a journalist make the book interesting reading.
Unfortunately, she misses an opportunity to provide new insight into the Middle-East’s long-standing conflict by focusing on personal grievance and vengeance. And at times the tension generated by Caddie’s desire for revenge is dissipated by her long romantic musings about her lovers.