Haggai Carmon,
The Chameleon Conspiracy
(Dorchester, 2009)

The Chameleon Conspiracy is the third Dan Gordon thriller written by Haggai Carmon. If you have not read The Red Syndrome or Triple Identity, I can assure you that you can jump right in with The Chameleon Conspiracy, as that is what I did.

The introduction in the book compares Dan Gordon to James Bond. That link is tenuous in my mind. Yes, both characters are intelligence agents. However, Bond is always in the middle of an action scene, which makes you think he has more lives than a cat. Gordon, on the other hand, is a little more portly and spends most of his action scenes either running away or getting his butt kicked. This isn't meant to be comedic. Dan is simply more of a thinker, not a fighter. Dan's skill is in out-witting his opponent, not over-powering them with physical prowess.

The Chameleon Conspiracy focuses on a con artist nicknamed The Chameleon for his ability to change identities and blend in to the background in order to disappear as necessary. For two decades, this man has stolen money from people and banks around the world. Gordon is given the case after it is determined this criminal is more than just a thief. The Chameleon works for the Iranian government and has been funneling money towards terrorist activities. As Gordon tightens his net around his quarry, his adventures often take him away from his desk to cities around the globe. Eventually, his pursuit leads him in to Iran, a country that is just as hard to get into as it is to escape from.

I should caution potential readers that if you like your spy novels to be filled with action, you might be a little disappointed. My favorite parts of The Chameleon Conspiracy are actually where Gordon has his thinking cap on and is putting the pieces together. I like how he can follow a trail, regardless how how faint it might be. However, for those of you who need guns, explosions and chase scenes in your international thrillers, there are a few of those as well -- but nowhere near what you get with Bond.

One has to wonder how much of the author's personal experiences are hinted at in this novel. Carmon is not only an author, but also an international lawyer. Haggai has spent more than two decades investigating international money laundering and fraud cases for various U.S. government agencies. His investigations have brought him to many countries around the world. Gordon, the main character, is also a globetrotter as he works to solve similar crimes. Haggai was born in Israel and acts as legal counsel to the U.S. embassy in Israel." Gordon also has an Israeli connection. The ties between author and character seem to be there if you want to see them. It definitely makes you wonder how much reality there is in this work of fiction.

While The Chameleon Conspiracy is not the best spy novel I've ever read, I certainly enjoyed it enough to consider going back and reading the first two novels in the Dan Gordon series. As stated previously, the author has done a good job to ensure that you don't need to specifically read the books in their order of publication. Enough background is given to keep this story going if there are any ties back to the prior books. Where this novel lost me was in how quickly it wrapped up. I do not want to give away the ending, but it seemed rather anti-climatic compared to the rest of the story. I was left wondering if there really was any closure or if, perhaps, a door was left open for The Chameleon to be revisited again sometime in the future.

review by
Wil Owen

12 December 2009

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