Joel C. Rosenberg
Tyndale House Publishers
It wasn’t until I started reading Joel C. Rosenberg’s books that I realized I had been using a cliché when I would say that “anything can happen” when describing the twists and turns a plot can take. That statement should be reserved almost exclusively for Rosenberg’s novels, particularly DEAD HEAT, his latest work. I will tell you without reservation that anything can and does happen here, including a number of things for which I was/am nowhere near ready.
If you have not read the author’s previous novels --- THE LAST JIHAD, THE LAST DAYS, THE EZEKIEL OPTION and THE COPPER SCROLL --- you may want to jump into those before picking up this current one. Though Rosenberg does a good job of providing background on the characters in DEAD HEAT (particularly Jon Bennett and Erin McCoy) with respect to what has gone before, knowledge of the backstory of this series will help newcomers more fully appreciate the current book. However, it’s not necessary, especially when an all-too-imaginable yet unthinkable cataclysmic disaster befalls the United States within the first quarter of the novel.
Bennett and McCoy, former presidential advisors doing missionary work in Jordan, are far removed from the disaster, yet are facing significant problems of their own. McCoy has suddenly fallen victim to a mystery illness, while Bennett has received an anonymous telephone call from someone who claims knowledge of what has befallen the U.S., as well as the ability to prevent more disaster from occurring. But there is a price, one that both Bennett and the President are reluctant to pay.
The U.S. government, however, is on war footing, and while it races to determine the source of the calamity before further damage can be done, a second and most unexpected danger threatens from within. Rosenberg saves the most shocking event of all for the book’s conclusion, as the United States, in the midst of a retaliatory strike, experiences an event unprecedented in world history.
Rosenberg’s novels have Biblical prophecies as their foundation and are set in what are generally known as the “end of days.” Whether or not you count yourself as a believer, there is no denying that Rosenberg is a masterful storyteller, one for whom absolutely nothing is off the table. While some have found fault with the plot-driven elements of his work, Rosenberg’s frenetic pacing elevates the events of his narrative to a fever pitch, even as he ratchets things up another notch or five. Full of surprises and shocks, DEAD HEAT is unforgettable and unstoppable.
--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
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