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The Tehran Initiative

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The Advocate

The Tehran Initiative by Joel C. Rosenberg

Reviewed by Karri Compton

"...a complex thriller with enough international intrigue to satisfy those who enjoy such."

In the first book of the series, The Twelfth Imam, a new messianic leader rises to power in Iran, promising to use recently constructed nuclear warheads to annihilate Israel and the United States. Israel is committed to defending itself and vows to launch a preemptive strike if necessary. The U.S. disagrees and continues to rely on diplomacy in lieu of concrete intelligence. The Tehran Initiative continues to escalate the violence and ramp up the race against time to stop the next world war.

David Shirazi, an undercover CIA operative in the Middle East, searches for high value targets and reliable sources who can give him the what and where regarding Iran's nukes. Though he is successful in obtaining a wealth of information, it's never enough or fast enough for his boss. David wonders if it is all worth it, and ponders religion and faith even while putting his life on the line multiple times for his country.

During his mission, David reconnects with a childhood sweetheart, which complicates things since he is too busy to spend any time with her and can't tell her the real reason why. Likewise, he can't visit his aging parents as much as he should, which causes him grief.

With a myriad of foreign and domestic characters and worldwide threats of disaster, The Tehran Initiative is a complex thriller with enough international intrigue to satisfy those who enjoy such. I think a cast of character list at the beginning of the book would have been helpful (the first book in the series had one). That said, there is probably enough back story included in the Preface and throughout the book to keep readers up to speed who haven't read the first book. Still, I would recommend doing so. I did, and was glad I did.

Many readers complain about “preachiness” in this genre (or any genre really), and sometimes I will agree with them. But not in this case. Rosenberg is obviously passionate about Muslims and giving them an opportunity to accept the true Messiah, Jesus. He brings several of his characters on a journey of faith, each in different ways with different results, I think, to show us what is possible and also what is already happening in the Muslim world. There is a lot of scripture quoted and several supernatural events, none of which I think crosses the line to be too heavy-handed. I'm sure many would disagree.

Regardless, the story line is very plausible, and keeps the reader interested (unless he has a problem with the aforementioned bias to Christianity) to the end. I have been pulled in enough to want to read the next book in the series to see what happens.

Karri ComptonKarri Compton, wife and mother of three teens, two cats, and a beagle, devours Christian fiction whenever possible. Her favorite genre is suspense/thriller, especially Ted Dekker and Steven James novels. Since promoting biblical worldview fiction is dear to her heart, she reviews on her blog, Fiction Fanatics Only! and is a staff reviewer for such sites as The Christian Suspense Zone and Fiction Addict. Her stab at writing a novel confirmed what a tough job it is, and so the work is shelved for now, allowing the pros to do what they do best. When she isn't reading and reviewing, Karri stays busy at church and performing in various community theater companies.