By Lauren Sanders, $15.95; Akashic Books; 299 pages
After a disappointing end to her Olympic speed-skating career, Jennifer Baron took over her wealthy family's business.
While struggling with alcoholism and the stress of her new role, even more is added to her plate when her billionaire father mysteriously disappears. Unsure if she'll find him on the run from the FBI or six feet under, she travels to Israel in search of him and in the process puts her life on the line by becoming involved with his criminal activities with the help of his former lover Gila, a former corrupt Mossad agent.
Facing pressure from both U.S. and Israeli law enforcement, Jen must decide whether to turn on her father and Gila or protect her family legacy, deciding between love and hate.
The Book of Love and Hate is ultimately a peek into the high-stakes world of white-collar crime and its motivations, but it does so much more than that. Yes, the fast-paced action and nonstop suspense drew me into the plot, but its setting in Tel Aviv allowed the novel to explore broader themes like religion, war and political power.
The large-scale issues provide a dynamic background and complement to Jen and her exploration of her own personal demons. While dealing with addiction and grief after her beloved brother's recent suicide, Jen begins a tumultuous love affair with Gila. Although the relationship is full of passion, the manipulation between the two, each believing that the other knows more about the billionaire's disappearance than they are willing to admit, is a fascinating psychological subplot in this thrilling story.
Sanders knows how to craft a story. The storyline is riveting, and the personal development of the characters kept me engaged on a deeper level than even her thrilling plot could. Her prose is beautiful and brings you to an ending that is sure to have you reeling. I haven't yet read either of her other novels, Kamikaze Lust and With or Without You, but after finishing The Book of Love and Hate, they are certainly on my to-read list.