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The Last Days
By Joel C. Rosenberg

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The Last Days

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The Last Days
By Joel C. Rosenberg
Thorndike Press: Large Print, (2004)
ISBN: 0-7862-6272-9
Genre: Thriller

Reviewed by Rochelle Caviness - June 7, 2004

In this sequel to The Last Jihad, Joel C. Rosenberg picks up the story a short time after the destructive bombing of Tikrit and Bagdad by the United States. Whereas The Last Jihad dealt more with Saddam Hussein and the specter of international terrorism, The Last Days is concerned primarily with the Israeli-Palestinian 'issue' and the prospect of turning oil into peace. Set in the year 2010, this novel follows Jon Bennett, a former Wall Street strategist and his aid, CIA agent Erin McCoy, as they attempt to broker a peace deal between the two factions. The oil for peace deal hinges upon the two sides joining forces to exploit massive oil and gas reserved recently discovered off the Israeli coast. If peace can be achieved, every Israeli and Palestinian face the prospect of becoming instant millionaires.

Fast paced and action packed, The Last Days is a decent thriller, although unnecessarily complicated by some forays into Christian messianic beliefs about the 'end times'. In this novel, Bennett and McCoy's are sent to Israel in the company of Tucker Paine, the US Secretary of State. Their task is to meet with the Israeli Prime Minister, and then with Yasser Arafat, in order to work out the peace settlement. All their plans are destroyed when Paine and Arafat are killed by a suicide bomber. Almost instantly, a Palestinian civil war erupts that threatens to drag the entire Middle East into the conflict. Trapped in Gaza, among gun totting mobs, Bennett and McCoy must see not only to their own safety, but also protect Dmitri Galishnikov and Ibrahim Sa'id. If Galishnikov and Ibrahim should die, there might be no hope of working out the oil for peace deal, even if the civil war can be stopped.

Their flight to safety is harrowing, as are the effects of the civil war. Throughout, the story is peppered with real life personages ranging from Achmed Chalabi to Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas). Although fast paced, the story does drag in spots and the characters do not always act according the rules that Rosenberg has set out. For example, at one point he has various characters hiding out in a super secret fortress with assassins hot on their trail - yet they break cover to go out for a celebratory dinner! As you can imagine, nothing good comes from the dinner. This, however, is an unwarranted trick to move the story along as the characters in question would never have taken such a risky step given the dictates of the plot.

Between the two books in this series, The Last Jihad and The Last Days, the first book is by far my favorite. However it is not until the second book that the series star, Jon Bennett, starts to grow into something more than a one-dimensional character. McCoy also comes into her own in this volume. A straight shooting, gun totting gal with a super model figure, she's the real hero in this story. Were it not for her, Bennett would have died a dozen times over. I expect that we have not read the last of Bennett and McCoy's miraculous adventures...

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