It's hard to observe current headlines without wondering when the rumblings in the Middle East will erupt into an all out war. Even people that do not follow Bible prophecy, but read current headlines, can sense that something serious is brewing. Joel Rosenberg tackles an interesting topic and brings it to life on the fictional pages of The Twelfth Imam: combining his knowledge of Bible prophecy with what is happening in the news today. The result is a riveting fictional book that presents a scenario not far from something that could be reality.
Anyone that likes a good political thriller, and especially one that drips with realism, will enjoy this book. The plot explores what would happen if the world, particularly the U.S., waits too long and Iran is given the opportunity to develop nuclear weapons (which sounds eerily familiar to exactly what is happening now!). The plot involves a rookie CIA agent named David Shirazi who must use "any means necessary" to disrupt Iran's nuclear abilities and prevent a war of apocalyptic proportions from breaking out. To add great difficulty to that already difficult mission, he must do so without leaving any evidence of U.S. involvement because it would likely prompt retaliation if the U.S. is linked to the operation. [For some background understanding, it helps to understand that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a Shi'ites Muslim (and particularly a "twelver") and, thus, he strongly believes that the Mahdi will return at the end of time to be the ultimate savior of mankind and redeemer of Islam. Moreover, twelvers believe that the appearing will be during a time of chaos and, thus, they can hasten his arrival by creating a chaotic environment for him to return to. It presents the diplomatic quandary of how can one reason with someone that actually believes that war and chaos will lead to their ultimate salvation?]
This book wastes no time jumping right into the action from page one and the fast pace continues throughout the book: it often reminds me of the hit TV show "24", where you're on the edge of your seat from the opening scene until the end. David is a great protagonist: smart, ambitious, and caring. The engaging plot is intense and action-packed. The book is just shy of 500 pages and, from a pure entertainment aspect, is a great value. I appreciated that the chapters were short (often only 2-5 pages long), which made it easy to set the book down for a moment to do something and then return (e.g. refill a coffee cup and get back to the story).
Joel Rosenberg, a Messianic Jew, is obviously blessed by the Lord and has a wonderful ministry. Although he writes both fiction and non-fiction, I think his strength is fiction, where he is a very capable author that introduces characters you care about, describes scenes in vivid detail, and engrosses the reader into a carefully outlined plot.
In summary, I highly recommend this book as an extremely interesting, very entertaining read. What makes it pack an even more powerful punch is how the exciting plot drips with realism. Prophetically we know that eventually a war like no other is going to happen in the Middle East because the Bible, which has a perfect record, forewarns us.