Authors:  Charles Dyer and Mark Tobey
Title:  Strike the Dragon
Publisher:  Moody Publishers

Uh-oh, the U.S. is in trouble again.  Sixteen Islamic extremist terrorists have invaded eight major American cities with sixteen heat-seeking missiles.  Their plan?  Blow up some airplanes in order to deal a major blow to the American economy.  Who is our first line of defense?  A young Bible professor named Dr. Greg Hanson, a rookie FBI agent named Jillian Foster and a similarly inexperienced Israeli agent named Moshe Zachar.

What follows is a by-the-numbers terrorism themed thriller with Christian tendencies.

The plot itself is fairly interesting, shifting back and forth from the viewpoint of the terrorists to the American (and one Israeli) agents trying to catch up to them.  It is driven forward by the discovery of a hidden messaging system discovered by Greg as he surfs the Web looking for pictures of the temple mount for a Sunday School lesson.  However, when he checks the copyright information of the digital image, he discovers a cryptic message.  Meanwhile, in Damascus, Moshe meets with an agent of Mossad who claims that an attack on America is coming.  Greg unravels more clues hidden in pictures, Moshe learns more from his contact and when they come together they put the pieces of the puzzle together.

The writing has its highs and lows.  Parts of the novel feel very much like a history lesson, and that can be both a good and a bad thing.  In ways, it enriches the experience with a sense of authenticity by drawing on the author’s knowledge of Middle Eastern culture and settings.  Other times it’s a fourth wall breaker when too much information is given.  Dialogue has a tendency to feel stilted and unrealistic, especially during the evangelistic portions.  There are times when I wished the author would show me how quirky Greg was instead of constantly describing him as “quirky.”

The characters, while serviceable, are nothing memorable.  In the end you get the feeling that they are little more than cogs in the operation that drives the plot forward.  Their actions never surprise or shock.  Their romances are straight forward and uncomplicated by the extreme circumstance they find themselves in.  They never seem to be sufficiently worried by the imminent attack, and indeed, seem to keep in good spirits about the whole thing.  The one character I found most compelling was Ibrahim, one of the villains, and even he ultimately experiences no character defining moment past the fourth chapter of the novel.

In the end, it’s not a novel I can only recommend to those who really love stories of political intrigue and terrorism and don’t mind writing that can be somewhat didactic.  It probably won’t become a favorite, but for some it might be worth the read.


     
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