In Folsom’s novel, the Saudis and the Americans team up to thwart Iran’s attempt to build a nuclear bomb.
What will happen if Iran successfully develops a nuclear warhead? This question, which usually vexes presidential candidates and U.N. diplomats, drives Folsom’s fast-paced follow-up to his previous novel (The Pareto Spread, 2006). As scientists in Iran drive relentlessly toward completion of the nuclear technology that will give them a bomb, powerful figures in the U.S. and the Middle East fear that the Iranians’ pursuit will set off an arms race that will throw the Arab world into chaos and endanger global stability. Hoping to avert catastrophe, members of the Saudi royal family risk it all on “Peaceful Eagle,” a dangerous gambit that will deliver either peace or destruction. A Cold War-era bomb lies hundreds of feet below the ground in North Carolina, and the Saudis contract with the New Democratic Right—a semi-covert American paramilitary group—to extract the warhead. If necessary, the Saudis plan to detonate the device preemptively in Iran, scuttling the country’s nuclear ambitions and avoiding all-out war. Meanwhile, Robert Faircloth, an NDR operative, is working his way through the Middle East in an effort to contact the Iranian mullahs, warn them of the impending danger and resolve the crisis diplomatically. The tension mounts as these figures and others race to a startling conclusion. Folsom’s novel is full of satisfying twists and intrigues; Tom Clancy would be proud. Further, the author is clearly conversant in international politics, Arab cultural norms and the intricacies of global religion. His knowledge lends his novel a realistic look and feel, and his expansive familiarity with current events gives it an up-to-the-minute realism. Best of all, while his plot moves forward at breakneck speed, he never sacrifices character development for pace. All of his major players are fully realized people, not just pawns in an international chess match.
A thought-provoking thriller.