A pre-emptive strike—two loose nuclear weapons—a seemingly invincible alliance of Muslim nations—and an all-out attack on Israel?
David Shirazi, a CIA operative, nearly has it made when it comes to his work in Iran. His bosses in the US give him almost free reign. The Iranians practically give away the sources he needs (except for the most important ones, of course).
Shirazi’s biggest challenge? He can’t rely on having backup when he needs it.
Last summer I reviewed Joel Rosenberg’s Implosion, on doomsday predictions and crises facing the United States. That book looked at US headlines, but Rosenberg’s newest novel Damascus Countdown returns the idea of instability in the Middle East, the topic of Rosenberg’s earlier fiction, including his first novel The Last Jihad. This time, the action is in Iran.
At its core, Damascus Countdown is the story tale of a charismatic leader rising to unite the Muslim world, with potentially devastating consequences. (In other words—he’s a loose cannon, loaded with nuclear weapons.)
As in Rosenberg’s previous books, this story builds around a Middle Eastern power struggle that off the Biblical prophecies foretelling the power struggles in the Middle East. Rosenberg mixes this with front-page style action, from the development of Iran’s nuclear program, to a failed assassination, UN diplomacies, and an Islamic coalition.
Damascus Countdown is third in a series on the rise of a dominant Islamic leader, following The Twelfth Imam and The Tehran Initiative. While I haven’t read the other two books, they appear to follow David Shirazi’s story through the building up to the crisis in this novel. Damascus Countdown, however, works well as a stand-alone novel. In some ways, I don’t feel a need to read the earlier books—I assume that they would be interesting also, but the book didn’t leave any significant gaps, or any gaps at all that I noticed.
I did get a little lost in the diplomatic side, but I enjoyed watching Shirazi work and seeing glimpses of his family and coworkers back in the US as they dealt with knowing what he was against—or not knowing at all where he was or what might be happening.
It all comes down to finding out which loose cannon will fire first.