In this political thriller, disparate characters act out—whether voluntarily or through trickery—a plot hatched by wealthy and powerful men hoping to turn the tide of history in their favor.
Simensen’s (Black Mamba, 2011, etc.) fourth novel is a slowly simmering examination of power, wealth, manipulation and corruption. It opens with a baffling array of seemingly unconnected characters. They go about their business and multiply with each chapter. Some readers might find Simensen takes this route a tad too long, particularly when some of the already myriad players start using different false identities. However, as the plot leisurely thickens, people and events eventually take their places for a denouement that is both thrilling and thoughtful. The twisting plot involves the attempt by a group of rich Americans to stop Iran from becoming a nuclear power: The Americans plan to fund and execute their own terrorist attack on the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudia Arabia. Whether this is done wholly of their own accord or with a nod and wink from the U.S. government is just one of the intriguing questions Simensen raises. The characters, all exquisitely drawn, are one way or another pulled into this intrigue and ultimately forced to accept it, whatever their motivations and philosophies may be. Character development is the author’s strong suit, hence the long buildup; fortunately, the finale’s action grows directly and logically out of each personality, making for a more complex, layered approach than the usual fare. Even names are hauntingly evocative. For instance, Dr. Donner, principal architect of the scheme, along with his National Security Agency–connected firm Donner Systems Corporation, can’t escape association to the snowbound, cannibalistic Donner Party. This is a suspenseful thriller for the thinking man or woman, with action and characters extracted from today’s headlines and a plausible plotline that plays on the emotions and fears of modern life.
Should appeal to fans of political intrigue who demand visceral and intellectual gratification.