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Tuesday, March 5, 2013

"Damascus Countdown" by Joel C. Rosenberg

If you only read one book this year - or perhaps one series - it should be this one.

Described as a 'geopolitical thriller,' I never would have picked up a Rosenberg book on my own.  I'm about as political as a daisy, and trying to figure out the truth from all of the he saids/she saids that are popular in politics these days are way beyond me.

But then a friend lent me Rosenberg's first series, and I couldn't put it down.

This one is just as, or perhaps more, relevent to world events than the first that I read.

We often hear people speculating about what might happen when Jesus returns, but Rosenberg takes a different tack in this series:  What might happen if the Muslims believe that their end-time prophecies are being fulfilled?

Many Muslims believe that this fulfillment is imminent, and they are actively working to push towards that day - to be prepared for what they consider to be a holy war against Israel and the US when the Twelfth Imam returns.

This is the story of Damascus Countdown.  A fast-paced, around-the-world story of a lone CIA agent hidden inside Iran trying to locate and neutralize nuclear warheads at all costs - before they could be used to neutralize Israel or the US.

I've had Damascus Countdown on my bookshelf for a few weeks now, and I can't get the plot out of my head - in large part, because it could be playing out in the Middle East right now.  With Iran working frantically to go nuclear, with Israel trying to keep the US as a strong ally, with many wanting the US to do more to stop Iran's nuclear efforts, this book is straight out of today's headlines.

David Shirazi, the main character, is kind, determined, and brilliant.  He doesn't want to be violent but is totally committed to stopping the kind of nuclear war that he is positive is coming - and this smart intensity makes him a fascinating character.  It doesn't hurt that he has a kind, praying love interest back in the States, either.  The love angle softens the sharp edges of the story and adds a softness that would be missing otherwise.

Despite Shirazi's perfection as a lead character, the reader can never be totally sure that he will survive through the plot.  He is, of course, an American spy in Iran, with bombs and gunfights exploding on nearly every page - and Rosenberg keeps you in suspense in every single chapter.  Generally one is sure that the main character will survive the story victorious, but Rosenberg writes his plots as he sees them, not as we do, and he does not provide this certainty.  This makes Damascus Countdown a suspenseful thriller on every single level.

You shouldn't miss this book - it's a must-read - but you should also be prepared with some chocolate and a day off, because neither will you be able to put it down.  It has some heft to it, so clear your schedule and get reading.  This one is demanding your attention now.

I received a free copy of Damascus Countdown from Tyndale House in exchange for an honest review.

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