The Third Target – Joel Rosenberg

The Third Target Joel Rosenberg
The Third Target by Joel Rosenberg
Series: JB Collins #1
Published by Tyndale on January 6, 2015
Genres: Christian, Fiction, Thriller
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five-stars

When New York Times foreign correspondent J. B. Collins hears rumors that an al-Qaeda splinter cell--ISIS--has captured a cache of chemical weapons inside Syria, he knows this is a story he must pursue at all costs. Does the commander of the jihadist faction really have weapons of mass destruction? If so, who is the intended target? The U.S.? Israel? Or someone else?

With tensions already high, the impending visit of the American president to the region could prove to be the spark that sets off an explosion of horrendous proportions. Knowing that terrorist forces are already trying to bring down two Arab governments in the region--Iraq and Syria--can Collins uncover the truth before it's too late? Or will the terrorists succeed in setting their sights on the third target and achieving genocide?

Joel Rosenberg needs to stop writing. I mean it. Seriously. I don’t mean his novels are bad. I mean that everything he writes has a tendency to work its way into reality. Like writing about terrorists hijacking a plane nine months before 9/11 (The Last Jihad), or the death of Yasser Arafat thirteen months prior to it becoming reality (The Last Days), or the rise of a dictator in Iran who wants to wipe Israel off the map (The Ezekiel Option). My point being, Rosenberg has his thumb on the pulse of the Middle East chaos and he’s never been too far from wrong.

The Third Target begins with the premise that ISIS has obtained weapons of mass destruction and plan on using it to further establish their caliphate and destroy Israel. A relevant premise to be sure here in the early days of 2015. ISIS has been all over the news recently as they’ve marched through Mosul and have expanded their territory and left unspeakable horrors in their wake. But we’ve only known about ISIS for about six months now—much, much quicker than the time it takes to research, plot, write, rewrite, edit, format, and publish a novel.

And Rosenberg’s publishing team at Tyndale even expedited the process. Originally scheduled for a mid-March release date, the explosion of ISIS into the public knowledge drove them to amp up the production schedule and get the novel out in early January. I, myself, managed to read an advance copy in late October 2014.

And only time will tell how much of Rosenberg’s novel comes true. Now, of course, this is a novel. Rosenberg does not pretend that he’s telling the future and, I’m sure, shakes his head at all the pundits that call him a “modern-day Nostradamus.” His novels are a possible and, if left unchecked, likely scenario, which is why Rosenberg writes the worst-case scenario while actively campaigning for the best-case option. The Third Target is exquisitely researched, wonderfully written, and terrifyingly real.

J.B. Collins is a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He’s been to hell and back and gotten the Pulitzer to prove it. But all that’s going to be a cakewalk compared to what’s about to happen to him. He’s got a source insisting that ISIS has obtained chemical weapons. Against his boss’s orders and his better judgment, he sneaks into Syria in order to interview ISIS’s commander. And it all goes downhill from there.

Meanwhile, the American government continues to downplay the ISIS threat, insisting that there’s no way the radical sect could have weapons of mass destruction. As Collins uncovers the story, he finds himself fighting a battle on two fronts as he struggles to survive in the East and have his message heard in the West.

The story begins to coalesce around the important nation of Jordan, a tenuous ally to Israel and the U.S. and the only buffer betwixt Israel and radical Islam. The story’s multiple fronts—peace talks between Israel and Palestine, the looming ISIS threat, and Collins’ own personal brokenness and loss—all converge and rush forward to an intense and pulse-pounding climax that seems ripped from the newspaper headlines.

Let me finish by saying this: the story isn’t over. I won’t ruin the ending for you, but Rosenberg is clear that he plans on writing more, on diving deeper, on throwing Collins into even deeper danger. And I don’t know whether to be scared or excited. I’m excited for where the story is going. It’s an incredible story. I just want it to stay between the covers.

five-stars

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