Damascus Countdown by Joel C. Rosenberg
All eyes are on the Middle East. Israel has successfully launched a first strike on Iran, taking out all of their nuclear sites and six of their nuclear warheads—and causing The Twelfth Imam to order a full-scale retaliation. U.S. President William Jackson threatens to support a U.N. Security Council resolution condemning the Jewish State for unprovoked and unwarranted acts of aggression.
Meanwhile, CIA operative David Shirazi has infiltrated the Iranian regime and intercepted information indicating that two Iranian nuclear warheads survived the attack and have been moved to a secure and undisclosed location. In danger not only from the ongoing missile strikes on Iran but also from the increasingly hostile and suspicious governments of multiple countries, David and his team are in a race against time to find the remaining nuclear warheads before disaster strikes.
Having always enjoyed Rosenberg's books (both fictional and non) in the past and having enjoyed this series thus far, I naturally wanted to read this book as soon as I saw it was available (especially since book 2 - The Tehran Initiative ended with such a cliffhanger). So once it came in at the library, it went straight to the top of my to-read pile (second only to The Judgement Stone which was even more highly anticipated).
I was not disappointed. This book is AMAZING! It picks up right (and I mean right) where The Tehran Initiative left off, which is both good and not-so-good. It's good, well, great, because it thrusts us right into a blazing warzone, behind enemy lines, from the first page, and as if that wasn't intense enough, the tension does indeed build all the way to the climax, racing at a breakneck speed all the way. It's not so good because my memory of The Tehran Initiative isn't perfect so I'd forgotten a few plot points and as a result a couple of times I was like "Huh? What's up with that?" - this of course my bad and not a problem with the book really at all.
As I have already said, this book is uber-intense and moves at a blistering pace right from the get-go. It may be 430 pages, but you get so into it from the very beginning that you really can't put it down and so one will probably end up staying up late reading and end up finishing it in 4 sittings MAXIMUM. Part of this intensity comes from the book's realism. With the constant conflict in the Middle East these days it is not at all hard to see this happening.
An interesting plot element of note is that this book involves the Mossad and their operatives far more than the other books. I personally like this because the Mossad is more shadowy/secretive, more ruthless, and dare I say more effective than the CIA. The Mossad deserves series of thrillers all to themselves, and I'd say there are likely are some centred around their agents... in Israel. The book market around here is so America/Euro-centric that we never really hear about spy thrillers with protagonists in agencies other than the CIA, MI6, etc (this also likely the reason why so few of Jack Heath's books are available over here). ANYWAYS, moving on...
The characters were generally quite well developed, having of course been developed over the course of the series. Even so, there still were some times when a few acted out of character, and other times where there were moments that were downright cheesy. The one character that is underdeveloped is the US President (he's anti-Israel, wishy-washy at times, and a Democrat - big surprise (sarcasm)).
The only other issue here is the ending. It's one of those times where the author makes things so impossible for the protagonist that it has to be a bit deus ex machina in the end, though in this case you can kinda see it coming as you near the climax. And then the ending started to mimic Dead Heat (the finale of Rosenberg's last series) a little bit... but thankfully it got off that track pretty quickly. Had Rosenberg wanted to extend the series one more book, the ending could have been SO MUCH BETTER, but alas he decided not to go that route.
Regardless of said issues, this was a great, well written, intense, and action packed book. Very highly recommended to fans of Tom Clancy (personally I like Rosenberg better than Clancy), spy thrillers, global politics, what-if scenarios, or action/adventure, and to anyone who follows the news! (Note: please start from Book 1 - The Twelfth Imam)
Posted by bendavis