Bunn's biggest problem as a writer is false advertisement. This is reflected once again in Riders of the Pale Horse. While he did the best research job ever in this book, the plot and characters are still lacking in depth.
The plot is supposed to be about an American doctor, the perfect male lead, giving free help to hospitals as he crosses the Algerian desert. On the other side of the desert is a woman whom he is destined to instantly fall in love with even though they have never met. This is the female lead's only point in the story, except that she meets many people that give her information dumps about the area.
The two of them meet in the middle of the plot, and from there it turns from a mindless international plot into a love story. The two instantly fall in love and can't stop looking and thinking about each other and thinking thoughts like, I don't know how, but this man is destined to change my life forever. Besides Bunn's lack of real emotions, he can't seem to get away from the romance.
Now did any of that sound like an international suspense novel about terrorists smuggling weapons from Russia across the desert? That's what the cover description says it is. The only part about weapons in the information dump at the end called an epilogue.
Basically, Bunn hasn't gotten anywhere in his writing career, no matter how old his books are. He always stays with the same plot and never deviates. If by some miracle, he someday abandons this thoroughly worn-out storyline, it will be something rejoice about.
2 stars for good research