This final of three books in The Twelfth Imam series by Joel C. Rosenberg picks off immediately from where The Tehran Initiative (Book 2) left off. David Shirazi, a CIA spy codenamed Zephyr, hides deep inside his Iran-friendly cover as a communication specialist selling untraceable satellite phones to the top leaders of the new Caliphate, a Muslim world power organized and controlled by Muhammad Al-Mahdi, the Twelfth Imam and false Messiah of the Muslim World.
As in his other books, Rosenberg mixes high-stakes suspense and intense actions scenes with touching human relationships and internal struggles, specifically those with a religious bent. While occasionally such scenes dragged on almost mercilessly (I think of Marseille’s entire stay in New York), they lend an air of realism that’s hard to find in most spy novels. In fact, its where Rosenberg strays from the norm that makes his novels so enjoyable. For example, where most spy novels would fill their pages with the drama of “the district office” or the decision-makers at “Langley,” Rosenberg instead gives less attention to such inner workings than he does to the long-distance and all-but-unspoken romance between David and Marseille. The tough decisions of Eva and her bosses are really nothing more than small subplots that only show up when interacting with David directly, or when dealing with enemies that have direct bearing in his position in Iran.
While the beginning of this third book lagged a bit due to Marseille’s care for David’s family while he fights the world’s evil half a world away, the second half was as fast-paced and riveting as anything I’ve read from Rosenberg thus far. This book is well worth the wade through the entire trilogy. And, judging by how he ended his first set of book, The Last Jihad series, with his final installment Dead Heat, I truly did not know how to anticipate his ending to Damascus Countdown. I remained plastered to the book to the final pages and closed the book honestly satisfied with his resolution.
This book deals with biblical prophecy straight from the headlines, describing an Islamic uprising as fanatical as ISIS and described by Rosenberg as the “genocidal apocalyptic death cult that is running Iran.” Rosenberg touches specifically on the prophecies regarding the fate of nations like Iran and Syria during “the last days,” referencing such passages as Jeremiah 49 and Ezekiel 38-39.
While this book won’t make any friends with the majority of Muslims across the world, specifically the “Twelvers” who truly await the return of the Twelfth Imam as their promised Messiah and Jesus his forerunner, nothing published by a true believer and friend of Israel could. Rosenberg is a prophet in his own right, not necessarily foretelling anything that’s already been foretold in biblical prophecy, but forth-telling those very same truths, making them real, emphasizing them as imminent, and declaring the immediate need for everyone everywhere to repent before the return of Jesus Christ and the coming of the terrible Day of the Lord.