The Beirut Protocol (Marcus Ryker #4), by Joel C. Rosenberg

Eight stars

First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Joel C. Rosenberg, and Tyndale House Publishers for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.

Joel C. Rosenberg is back with another of his nail-biting thrillers that pulls together many of the current goings-on in the Middle East and their delicate political interactions. Special Agent Marcus Ryker is in the region as an advance team with the Diplomatic Security Service, scouting things out before the signing of a major peace treaty. However, things go terribly wrong and he soon becomes a pawn of a ruthless regime seeking to flex its own muscle in the region. Rosenberg aptly covers all the perspectives with strong actors and leaves the reader feeling as though they are in the middle of the action in The Beirut Protocol. Recommended to those who have loved his work in the past, as well as the reader who cannot get enough of political thrillers.

It seemed like an easy mission for Marcus Ryker and his team, all part of the US Diplomatic Security Service, as they worked ahead of the upcoming peace treaty signing between America and the Saudis. However, along the Israel-Lebanon border, Ryker and his team are captured by Hezbollah and taken to a compound. It’s only later that Ryker’s identity is discovered after some brutal interrogating and torture techniques.

While no one in the White House is yet aware of what’s happened, the news travels to Tehran quickly. Iran is in the middle of its own political vacuum, with the Grand Ayatollah having died and a new man about to be chosen for the job. Whomever assumes the role, their support of Hezbollah is almost guaranteed and having Ryker will prove to be a gift no one could imagine.

While Ryker tries to get himself out of the clutches of Hezbollah, he musty act quickly. He’s a wanted man, having scuttled a number of plans by America’s most ardent enemies. It will require a great deal of planning and determination if Ryker hopes to make it out alive. Still, the rewards could be monumental, particularly if it means the Americans and Saudis can move ahead with their peace treaty, which is sure to open the door to more tranquility in the region.

Joel C. Rosenberg has long been a favourite author of mine, not only because of his political thrillers, but also since he knows just how to lay the groundwork for a plausible story. Many who are familiar with a number of his series will recall that he predicted some of the major events in the region in the late 1990s and into the 20th century, almost foreboding the events that would lead to clashes that pit countries and regions against one another today.

Marcus Ryker has been a great protagonist throughout the series. Rosenberg has been able to develop him effectively throughout the series, mixing a strong determination with some key personal backstory. The series has become more intense because of Ryker’s presence and one can only hope that Rosenberg is not entirely done with this man, who seems at ease no matter where he finds himself in the world, or which enemy awaits him.

Rosenberg’s creation of strong secondary characters is like few others I have seen before. Each actor plays a key role in the larger narrative and keeps the reader enthralled as they learn about how political and social situations are seen through a number of lenses. While it can be hard to keep the countries and their politics straight, Rosenberg has a great list at the start of the book to provide the reader just what they need to keep the plot flowing with each actor and the flavour brought to the narrative. While there are usually a large number of actors being used, Rosenberg is always spot-on about how he hopes to effectively utilise those who push the story forward.

The overall story was, as usual, amazing and well-paced. Rosenberg understands the nuances of the region to provide the reader with something to keep them on their toes. The writing is of high caliber and keeps the reader interested throughout the story, with key moments of dialogue to paint an even more intense picture of how the machinery of Middle East politics works. With short chapters that push the reader to keep the story going, Rosenberg jams much into his writing and does not let the reader rest on their laurels at any time. With a plot that is well-paced and full of twists, the reader is never left knowing what is to come, which helps to add new layers of thrills to an already stunning piece.

Kudos, Mr. Rosenberg, for another winner. I cannot wait to see what you have next for your fans and how the future of the region will shape your writing.

Be sure to check for my review, first posted on Mystery and Suspense, as well as a number of other insightful comments by other reviewers.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge:

The Jerusalem Assassin (Marcus Ryker #3), by Joel C. Rosenberg

In the stunning continuation of his latest Middle East politics series, Joel C. Rosenberg takes readers deeper into the battle to find peace in the region, as well as the new and intensifying groups that will stop at nothing to derail anything that benefits Israel. Marcus Ryker continues to keep an ear to the ground when it comes to rumblings in the Middle East. He is still forced to watch his back after taking significant action against the Russian leadership not long ago and has been covertly hired by the CIA to help them better understand the new threats against America in the region. When Ryker’s own church is the target of a terrorist attack, he’s shaken and reveals as much to the President of the United States. While compassionate words are exchanged, POTUS is still planning to unveil a major peace initiative for the Middle East on a trip to Jerusalem, in hopes that the Israelis and Palestinians will join him in finally making some headway. Subsequent blasts in DC and the American Embassy in London proves devastating, but POTUS remains focussed on his plan. Meanwhile, hidden away from the eyes of many, an all-out fatwa on both the US president and the Israeli prime minister is offered, with Islamic notoriety sure to follow. A new organisation rises from the ashes where many have failed, sure to take its opponents by storm. Kairos seeks to wrestle control of the Muslim world from those nations who are weak in their opposition to anything anti-Israeli and their latest idea could rock the region and change the balance of power. When the Palestinians scoff at the American peace plan, a new and shocking Islamic replacement in the form of Saudi Arabia emerges as a potential mouthpiece. With the secret summit inching closer, Ryker must ensure that Kairos is not able to strike with their newest weapon, as it will mean disaster for everyone. With intel trickling in, Ryker and his group think that they have the target in their sights, only to learn that nothing is quite as it seems. Is peace in the Middle East a possibility, or will bloody attacks that see a high casualty rate be all the media reports on in the coming days? Rosenberg proves that he is a stellar writer and has a handle on this sub-genre of political thrillers. Recommended to those who love Middle East politics, as well as the reader who desires a high caliber piece with significant research to support fictional claims.

I discovered Joel C. Rosenberg’s writing a number of years ago, finding his depiction of the Middle East situation quite poignant. I suspect I am not the only one, as many have commented on Rosenberg’s uncanny ability to forecast and forebode some of the goings-on in the region, particularly in his first series. Marcus Ryker is the protagonist of this fourth series with similar undertones, though the action has not abated whatsoever. His commitment to his country is fuelled by the fact that he lost a wife and child years ago. His dedication to his personal faith is also something that drives him to seek success, though he seems less likely to inculcate fellow characters than others in past series. Determined not to miss any clue that could work to help America forge a lasting peace, Ryker works tirelessly to make a difference, no matter the cost. The handful of other characters within the book offer wonderful flavouring to the overall plot and narrative, providing different regional perspectives that are essential to better understanding the tensions and the hidden agendas that fuel the animosity on both sides. Rosenberg pulls no punches and is able to educate the reader as they delve deeper into this masterful series. The story was yet again top-notch and offered some unique approaches to the Middle East peace process, while still pushing the thread of Israel being recognised as a regional partner. Rosenberg’s past work in the region shines through in his writing and his use of short chapters pulls the reader in and makes them want to know more as the plot thickens. Another wonderful book in a series that has me on the edge of my seat, I can only wonder where Rosenberg will take things from here. That being said, it’s surely somewhere worth going, though I will have to be patient to see what twists emerge.

Kudos, Mr. Rosenberg, for another wonderful novel. You captivate and speak so frankly while writing in such a way that the entertainment value is never lost on the curious reader.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: