In this debut alternate-history novel, the U.S. government schemes to destabilize the Soviet Union by supporting a religious revolution in Iran, which causes concern in the U.S. oil industry—and wreaks havoc on a love affair between an American and an Iranian oil executive.
In 1978, oil industry bigwigs are alarmed when they hear about the Carter administration’s plan to turn its back on the ailing shah of Iran and support Ayatollah Khomeini’s bid for power. Any disruption in the Middle East could cost the oil companies billions. So, as part of a plan cooked up by Midway Oil executive Jill McGill, they warn the administration: If Iran’s unrest spreads to other countries, the oil companies will stop the flow of oil through the Strait of Hormuz and cause a global economic crisis. Jill has long had an on-and-off romantic relationship with suave, handsome oil executive Dr. Bijan Azad, who’s stuck in his native Iran, watching the country descend into chaos. They remain in contact, but Jill worries about Bijan; his life is at risk, but he doesn’t want to leave his native country, and their relationship deepens despite the miles that separate them. Amran lived in Iran during a similar, real-life turbulent period in the 1970s and provides a riveting firsthand account of the revolution on the ground in Tehran. Indeed, the most compelling aspect of the novel is the description of Iran immediately before and during the upheaval. The prose is unpolished at times, with a tendency toward redundancy, as when “Bijan inquisitively asked” a question or when “Cyrus, again agreeing, said, ‘I know.’ ” Even so, the dialogue largely rings true throughout, and the author develops the story’s main and secondary characters well.
A solid, if occasionally awkward, thriller.