Thursday, April 25, 2019

Book Reviews Reloaded: The Third Target

This article first appeared on East Niagara Post on June 30, 2015. It is repeated here as I work to put all my book reviews in one place. They will be posted on Thursdays or Fridays and only be altered from the original in that I will add publisher information and pages. Hopefully, by revisiting these reviews, other people might find a book they'd like to pick up for their own enjoyment.

The Third Target - Joel C. Rosenberg
Tyndale House Publishers
448 Pages

Sometimes I find an author I really like and just have to pick up his or her books whenever they show up on the “New Releases”  shelf at the library. Joel C. Rosenberg is one such author, and his latest output, The Third Target was grabbed and taken home with me.

Good authors can grab headlines from television and newspapers and weave them into a tale that makes one wonder if the novel depicts actual, behind-the-scenes events in the world. In this latest J.B. Collins adventure, Joel Rosenberg gives us a possible inside look at one of the biggest threats facing America today -- ISIS.
Collins, a reporter for the New York Times, has latched onto a rumor that ISIS has captured weapons of mass destruction in the form of chemical weapons. Inexplicably, Collins is also given an exclusive, face to face interview with one of the leaders of the rogue group of terrorists. When he threatens to spill the beans on the chemical weapons aspect, his life enters a whole new realm of danger.
It is at this point that Collins’ life goes off the rails. He’s kidnapped, family threatened, and he’s used as means for the terrorists to get their demands out to the public. He moves from situation to situation barely escaping with his life each time. For a simple reporter, Collins has quite the knack for the spy game.
Collins needs to inform the rest of the world of the dangers faced by an ever strengthening terrorist organization. With the new weaponry, ISIS has delusions of even greater violence to those who don’t agree with them. Some of their more elaborate plans involve taking out the leaders of the infidels -- the Israeli Prime Minister and the President of the United States.
The reporter walks a fine line between reporting the news factually and giving out the information ISIS wants without getting himself killed. His various contacts across the entire Middle East set him up for one of the greatest interviews of his life and a chance to cover the impending peace treaty between Palestine and Israel. Again, Collins barely escapes with his life.
After a massive ISIS-led attack on the peace treaty, Collins escapes the inferno, but Air Force One and the President are missing. The book ends with Collins informing his editor of that fact. Obviously The Third Target is only the first volume in what could be a continuing series.
This book is terrifying in that it seems so realistic. The things in the book could actually happen and seem to be ripped from actual headlines. The action is fast paced and the characters inevitably find themselves in dire situations. These thrillers are a guilty pleasure – easy to read and exciting.
A couple things stand out with me, however, that detract from this book. The characters, especially Collins, seem to be mere caricatures rather than being fully fleshed out. There’s not a lot of depth to any of them and only play to simple stereotypes. The endless, exciting action does counter this fairly well, though.

The second issue I have with this book, and really all of Rosenberg’s books, is the preaching. As a born-again Christian, it is his duty to spread the Word. Unfortunately, it detracts from the story when he spends several pages on the subject. It sticks out like a sore thumb with the rest of the narrative, like a bump in the road. Don’t mistake this for being anti-religion. There is a time and place for it, and it just does not work in these books.
Aside from these minor issues, Joel Rosenberg’s books are exciting reads. In The Third Target, he tackles a hard truth about radical Islam and the threats faced by our country from terrorism. He also makes sure to highlight the difference between the fanaticism and conventional Islam. You will get hooked on this book and the excitement it generates. It’s worth taking the time to grab it from the library.
Craig Bacon is a quasi-reporter, but the most dangerous situation he ends up in is being late for a deadline.