The Jerusalem Assassin (Marcus Ryker #3) – Joel Rosenberg

The Jerusalem Assassin Joel Rosenberg
The Jerusalem Assassin by Joel Rosenberg
Series: Marcus Ryker #3
Published by Tyndale on March 17, 2020
Genres: Fiction, Christian, Suspense, Thriller
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With the unexpected death of Russian President Aleksandr Luganov, and Iran's efforts to acquire fully operational nuclear warheads successfully thwarted, American President Andrew Clarke decides the moment has come to unveil his comprehensive proposal to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

However, when a series of senior American officials involved in the peace process are assassinated, Clarke orders Marcus Ryker and a team of CIA operatives to hunt down those responsible and bring the killing spree to an end.

What Ryker uncovers is a chilling plot to kill the American president himself, but at first, it's unclear who is the driving force behind the plot. Is it the Russians, seeking payback for the assassination of Luganov? Is it the Iranians, in retaliation for the American operation to keep Tehran from acquiring nukes? Or is it another conspirator altogether, someone plotting to strike a blow against American hegemony in the Middle East and seize the leadership of the entire Sunni Muslim world?

By the time Ryker and his team fully understand the plot and who's behind it, they find they have less than 96 hours to disrupt a terrible evil that has been set in motion.

Joel Rosenberg has reached the point in his career where there has to be a specific disclaimer that his novels are not the result of inside information. They aren’t prophecies. They aren’t predictions. But they are based in reality and based on a wealth of research, and as such read like they could be tomorrow’s headlines.

The Jerusalem Assassin is no different, detailing a frighteningly plausible plot about a suicide bomber taking out a number of world leaders—the US president among them—at a peace summit in Israel. Just through the title, Rosenberg tells us where the story is headed. There’s no surprise that the novel’s climax plays out as it does. It’s the journey to get there that keeps you strapped in. It’s like a roller coaster. You know where it ends. You may even have some idea about the twists and turns it’ll take, but the breakneck intensity and heart-stopping leaps will leave you reeling and gasping, holding on for dear life, as you hurtle toward that destination.

While you could read The Jerusalem Assassin as a standalone novel, the first two books in the series—The Kremlin Conspiracy and The Persian Gamble—really help you understand how we’ve gotten to this place. A radical group called Kairos is determined to shift the balance in the Middle East by wiping out the leaders of Israel, the United States, and the moderate Muslim leaders willing to make peace.

Marcus Ryker has been in the middle of it from the beginning—from Russia to North Korea to Iran. He’s seen this story unfold in the secular and religious realms as atheistic regimes and fundamentalist regimes alike try to take down the United States and Israel. And now he’s at the center of things again—beginning with a firefight in his very own church.

Ryker’s journey throughout this series has been nothing short of incredible. Rosenberg portrays Ryker with a depth of humanity that keeps him from coming across as an unassailable action hero. Ryker’s no Rambo. He’s not a stock hero for whom everything goes easy and well. Rosenberg gives Ryker a well-developed internal monologue—by action thriller standards—making Ryker a character that I really empathized with.

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. His insistence on overlooking the atrocities of Saudi Arabia and portraying them as one of the good guys is, frankly, appalling. I can somewhat overlook it because of the fictional context, but knowing that what Rosenberg writes is based on his political and religious ideology, it can’t be overlooked completely.

The Jerusalem Assassin is Joel Rosenberg at the top of his game. A compelling, pulse-pounding thriller that will have you wondering the whole way through how Ryker will avoid the inevitable.