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Fiction

August 23, 1987|Don Campbell

BULLETS OF PALESTINE by Howard Kaplan (Gold Eagle: $3.95, paperback; 316 pp.). The prescience is uncanny--to come out with a hair-raising novel built around "the terrorist's terrorist," Abu Nidal, even as Lt. Col. Oliver North is telling a congressional investigative committee how the same terrorist has put out a contract on North's own life. "Bullets of Palestine" gives new meaning to the word contemporary.

Kaplan is not merely the author of two previous best-selling novels built around international intrigue, but is probably without peer in his grasp of the delicate and explosive relationship between the Israelis and the Palestinians and of the chemistry and the motivations of the shadowy Abu Nidal. An adjunct associate professor of comparative Arabic and Israeli fiction at UCLA, Kaplan's extensive on-site research in the Middle East is immediately as apparent as his understanding of Nidal, a man he was studying even before Nidal's split with Yasser Arafat in '74 when he was virtually unknown outside the PLO's own Fatah council.

Take this uneasy allegiance: a joint venture between an Israeli intelligence officer, and a Palestinian who will help him gain access to Nidal. The objective: to eliminate by assassination this evil man who is a threat to moderates in both their cultures. But, can they trust each other? And, in the cat-and-mouse chase that follows, can Nidal remain ignorant of the plot against his life? Suddenly, who is the cat and who is the mouse?

This is a terrorist thriller in the best tradition of the genre by an author who knows the Middle East like the back of his hand--from the cacophony of the bazaars to the stench of human flesh during the Phalangist massacre at the Shatilla refugee camp.

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