As a reader, I was hooked on this book from the first two sentences: "Boris Stuchenko would be dead in less than nineteen minutes. And he had no idea why." Hijackers have taken control of an Aeroflot plane and have charted a path directly for the White House. Stuchenko, a self-made billionaire, is the richest man in Russia and "happens" to be taking a test ride on the airline before he purchases it and turns it around. Because of the hijacking, U.S. President James "Mac" MacPherson has no other choice than to blow up the plane before it hits its terrorist target. The incident begins an action-packed read between Russia and the United States.
From Joel C. Rosenberg's previous New York Times bestsellers (THE LAST JIHAD and THE LAST DAYS from Forge Press), I expected a dramatic beginning and he didn't disappoint. Readers of these other books will recognize the lead characters: Jon Bennett, Senior Advisor to the President, and Erin McCoy, also a Senior Advisor to the President who is on loan from the CIA, plus other members of President MacPherson's staff. Don't be concerned if you haven't read the other books in the series, because THE EZEKIEL OPTION stands alone for a tension-filled reading experience. The characters are well-drawn and the dialogue is crisp in this contemporary novel.
Several threads of story lines are started and continued throughout the novel, which makes for fast-paced action in various places on the globe, such as Washington, D.C., Moscow and Jerusalem. After tensions between countries are raised to a high level, there are no "easy" political solutions to the difficulties. The reader learns about the Ezekiel Option, which is based on a prophecy from Ezekiel 38-39. Dr. Eli Mordechai, the former head of the Israeli Mossad, explains the prophecy to Jon Bennett, saying, "A little over twenty-five hundred years ago, a Hebrew prophet named Ezekiel had a vision in which he foresaw a conspiracy that could have been ripped out of this morning's headlines. He saw modern countries then unborn, modern alliances yet unformed, and a day of unspeakable terror, all driven by a tyrant from the north."
The book even includes a veiled reference to the blockbuster Left Behind titles from Tyndale. At one point Jon and Mordechai are instant messaging each other and Mordechai says, "jonathan, my friend, just because you have never heard of this prophecy does not mean nobody has...never heard of the left behind series?"
"I remember a newsweek cover story about it a few years back, but no, never read the books...too busy making money."
"how could I forget? ...Well left behind was a series of novels by an evangelical prophecy expert named tim lahaye and a writer named jerry jenkins...about the last days, the rapture, the rise of the antichrist...they sold over 60 million copies."
"and the first chapter of left behind refers to the gog and magog prophecy as having already taken place...why?...because lahaye believes Ezekiel 30-39 might very well take place before Christ comes back for his church."
While Rosenberg's story includes characters who are Christians, any mention about the Bible or prayer is several hundred pages into the novel and carefully woven into the plot in an appropriate manner that isn't overdone.
Like any excellent novel in this genre, the tension for the reader grows with each page until you reach a point of no return --- where you have to complete the book in that setting, even if you stay up until the wee hours of the morning, as this reviewer did. In the final pages, everyone is "relatively safe" and the reader is left waiting for the next Rosenberg novel. I highly recommend this title.
Reviewed by W. Terry Whalin on June 27, 2005