The Beirut Protocol (Marcus Ryker #4) – Joel Rosenberg

The Beirut Protocol Joel Rosenberg
The Beirut Protocol by Joel C. Rosenberg
Series: Marcus Ryker
Published by Tyndale on March 9, 2021
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Thriller
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two-half-stars

From the New York Times, USA Today, and Publishers Weekly bestselling author!A game-changing peace treaty between Israel and the Saudis is nearly done.
The secretary of state is headed to the region to seal the deal.
And Special Agent Marcus Ryker is leading an advance trip along the Israeli-Lebanon border, ahead of the secretary's arrival.
But when Ryker and his team are ambushed by Hezbollah forces, a nightmare scenario begins to unfold. The last thing the White House can afford is a new war in the Mideast that could derail the treaty and set the region ablaze. U.S. and Israeli forces are mobilizing to find the hostages and get them home, but Ryker knows the clock is ticking.
When Hezbollah realizes who they've captured, no amount of ransom will save them--they'll be transferred to Beirut and then to Tehran to be executed on live television.
In the fourth installment of Rosenberg's gripping new series, Marcus Ryker finds himself in the most dangerous situation he has ever faced--captured, brutalized, and dragged deep behind enemy lines.
Should he wait to be rescued? Or try to escape? How? And what if his colleagues are too wounded to run?
This is the CIA's most valuable operative as you have never seen him before.

I’ve been a fan of the Marcus Ryker series from the beginning. It’s one of the best characters that Joel Rosenberg has created and the events—like much of his writing—has been eerily accurate. Joel’s grasp of Middle Eastern socio-politics and ability to turn that into an entertaining story is like no one else. Joel’s taken Ryker through Russia, Iran, North Korea, and Israel, heightening the stakes each time. This has been a hugely entertaining series and this one…I may end up in the minority, but this one falls flat.

The Beirut Protocol just doesn’t seem like the same type of novel as the previous books in the series. While the previous books dealt with end-of-the-world or at least huge-international-incident type of problems, The Beirut Protocol is mostly a straightforward story of capture and escape. Seriously, that’s the plot of the book. Ryker, Kailea, and a relative of the Israeli PM are captured by terrorists. Eventually, through a convoluted and unimpressive means, Ryker escapes. I mean, if I was captured by terrorists, I’d take an uneventful and unimpressive escape as well, but this is fiction and Rosenberg has set certain expectations. The scope and drama of the book just doesn’t hold up.

The result is that while the book is over four hundred pages, nothing really happens. There’s a lot of filler, including a bullet pointed page listing elements of Shiite eschatology. I’m used to Rosenberg pulling together multiple plot threads and perspectives, giving readers a thrill a minute, and having his finger on the pulse of Middle Eastern socio-politics. While the latter hasn’t changed, the first two are lacking. And it makes that latter point rather dry and uninteresting.

Rosenberg is four books into the series. He has a wealth of well-developed characters to draw from to complete his story, but none of them—Ryker included—advance forward in any meaningful way. As the bigger picture storyline begins to rely more on Shiite End Times theology—a subject of Rosenberg’s increasing fascination that he explores to tepid results in the 12th Imam trilogy—Rosenberg shifts to more ham-handed propaganda and outright lecture and exposition to tell his story.

In my review of The Jerusalem Assassin, I wrote that Rosenberg’s portrayal of radical Islam remains his weakest point. It comes across as a caricature—whether Rosenberg believes it to be so or not. It’s even more true in The Beirut Protocol. It comes across as thinly-veiled American/Israeli military propaganda. You can write from a certain viewpoint or conviction without it being propaganda. Rosenberg has made a career of it. But he falls short here with an unconvincing stereotype of Islam, a two-dimensional main character, and a shoestring plot.

It just doesn’t match up with even the other books in the series. The lack of internal cohesiveness in terms of characterization and plot really threw me out of the story. I’m probably being more critical of this book because I’ve had three books and over 1,200 pages to get to know the characters and cadence of the storyline. The Beirut Protocol just doesn’t align stylistically with the previous books in the series. Marcus Ryker deserves better.

two-half-stars