The first thing I found interesting about The Chameleon Conspiracy was the praise blurbs. Usually the blurbs found on the inside cover pages come from newspapers, review magazines or novelists. These blurbs came from the President of Israel, the Governor of Kentucky, an anonymous Mossad agent and a U.S. Federal Judge. A CIA operative wrote the preface.
The Chameleon Conspiracy, billed as an “an intelligence thriller,” is the third book in the series by Haggai Carmon, a former Israeli Mossad agent who is now an international lawyer. Carmon also used to work for and now contracts with the Justice Department, represents the U.S. Embassy in Israeli Litigation and has a law practice called Globalaw.
Like the first two books, The Chameleon Conspiracy features Dan Gordon, an Israeli former Mossad agent whose identity was exposed. Gordon relocates to the United States to work for the U.S. Justice Department and the CIA in asset recovery, related to money laundering and terrorism.
Gordon is assigned to investigate the swindling of $300 million from eleven banks by the “Chameleon,” who is thought to be one person, but it takes 179 pages to determine whether there is a Chameleon, or eleven people, swindling eleven banks. After much hashing and rehashing by several very thin characters, we learn that it is an Iranian agent swindling money from American banks to help fund terrorism.
The Chameleon Conspiracy reads like a Wikipedia definition of intelligence gathering. It seems much like an intelligence case folder full of documents written by a man with a photographic memory, containing cut and dried detail, but little dramatic effect. It is like the TV show CSI without the corpse. Procedural, but without a dramatic emotional stake the characters usually have, that invites the reader to have a share in it. Characters drone on giving speeches to each other for a half-page each, or more. You wait and wait for plot points, twists and turns, a feeling of adventure.
This kind of information has been delivered more dramatically in investigative articles, in the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times.
By page 179, where I had to bail out of reading the book, you finally know that the Chameleon is probably an Iranian sleeper agent, but Dan Gordon and his fellow agents are still not sure and you’re not sure you care. By now you feel like you have indigestion from over-eating pure information that you would rather eat course by course.
More than likely, the book intensified some after page 179, the characters became more interesting, some emotional or real blood was spilled and it was narrated in such a way that the reader actually felt it. But I don’t know. I wasn’t there…