Levy, Alan N. “The Tenth Plague”, Chickadee Prince Books, 2019.
A Political Thriller
Sometimes I just do not want to read political thrillers because we live in a world that it does not take much for fiction to become reality especially regarding the Middle East. Alan N. Levy’s “The Tenth Plague” looks at a world that is forced into almost nuclear war by an Iranian plot to attack Israel and the United States. Set in 2028, we are in a world where there has been a brutal reprisal of the 9/11 attacks on America, non-ending unrest in the Middle East, and Russia that is still under the leadership of the ruthless Vladimir Putin.
Because this is a thriller, I must be careful about what I can and cannot say since I want to keep the read thrilling for everyone. I do think that it is important to say that there is a sense of coming catastrophe throughout the read and even though we know that what we are reading is fiction, the author is that good that he can create a sense of unease in the reader.
What we have is a story of global conflict due to the cynicism that is felt from the feeling that a catastrophe is headed our way. I do believe that since 9/11, most of us feel that something like this could happen even though our guard is up. I do not think I am a pessimist but rather a realist.
Col. Arshad Sassani is a high-ranking Iranian intelligence officer who also is a valuable informant for Israel, a double agent, if you will. He’s been sharing details about Iran’s nuclear capabilities and ambitions with Israel’s Mossad. When he reveals that there is a plot to launch missiles against major cities in Israel (Tel Aviv) and the United States (Washington, D.C., and New York City) at the same time, the Israeli government dispatches Major Yaacov “Jake” Rafaeli, a top Mossad agent, to bring Sassani back. Israeli authorities who have access to the best espionage available believe that it will be impossible to prevent the planned by conventional military means, so they have made up a plan to use a deadly biological weapon to pre-emptively destroy Iran’s entire population. However, there is a problem and that is that the majority of the surrounding region, 14 nations in total, would be affected adversely. Scientists in Israel have developed an antidote to protect their own people, and the Israeli government tries to blackmail the United States into assisting in the operation by threatening to release the virus on American soil. (this gives is an idea as to how much the relationship between the two countries has broken down to the point that Israel threatens its best ally). Shannon Parks, the deputy director of the CIA, brokers a deal with the head of the Mossad, Shlomo Mizrahi to take out Iran’s nuclear missiles instead. At the same time, Iran rushes to find and silence Sassani and arrest and torture his family members in order to assess the damage he’s done.
As I read, the word “wow” kept on coming to mind. Sentence after sentence possessed the wow factor and I surprised myself by my reaction. I am not much of a thriller reader; I find I get too excited by becoming caught up in the plot and I do just fine with romance and historical fiction. However, I might have just found what has been missing in my literary diet and I need to red more thrillers. Of course, not all thrillers will be as good as this is especially when we know that this is author Alan N. Levy’s debut novel. I read that a critic said that the novel is so “bombastic and cinematic” that it is no wonder that “it abandons any sense of political plausibility from the start.” I think that statement can only be interpreted by who you are and as one who logged many years in the Israel Defense Forces, nothing is implausible.