SEARCHING FOR AMI
AUTHOR: JOHN O’KEEFFE
RED ROCK PRESS 234 pages €13.99
Dublin GP John O’ Keeffe has written a debut novel with a difference. He breaks ambitious new ground for an Irish author by taking a unique slant on the Israeli – Palestinian situation. Drawing inspiration from the great John Ford Western “The Searchers”, he has produced a pacy impressive thriller with good action sequences set in turn in the Occupied Territories, the Lebanon, Cyprus and Switzerland, before culminating in Dublin.
In the film John Wayne spends years searching for his niece, abducted by Comanche after a raid in which her parents were killed. In the novel, a toddler – Ami – is abducted following a massacre in which her mother and aunt are among those killed at a Jewish settlement in the Occupied Territories close to the Golan Heights.
Her father, Harry, the book’s hero, an Israeli intelligence officer, who, ironically, is both sympathetic to the Palestinians and vehemently opposed to the establishment of settlements, explores every avenue to secure her safe return, without avail. When the trail runs cold he eventually, reluctantly, accepts the near certainty that she is dead.
Years later the trail hots up again. Harry, no longer a government agent, or even resident in Israel, goes in pursuit of the woman he believes has the key to what happened to his daughter. There follows a breath-taking chase through Zurich and London before the action eventually shifts to Dublin. Along the way the body count mounts and there are fascinating insights into the modalities of the on-going struggle between the intelligence services and the terrorists. Harry, seeking resolution or closure, realises he is being used also to flush out a major player.
The Irish dimension is not confined to the streets of Dublin, or to the involvement of the Gardai. The role of Irish troops in UNIFIL is covered and indeed one of Harry’s friends throughout is an Irish army officer who plays a key role in assisting Harry.
The book is well researched and handles the serious themes of the current situation with sympathy and sensitivity. There are good and bad individuals on both sides with more innocent blood spilt following the inevitable Israeli retaliation for the original massacre – an eye for an eye.
The book concludes with enough unfinished business on several fronts to suggest that there will be a sequel. John O’Keeffe, or Harry, will be back.”