Strait of Hormuz by Davis Bunn starts off with a bang and keeps up a steady pace through most of the story. Marc Royce was formerly an intelligence operative for the State Department, but was fired by his boss. Since then, however, his former boss has called him for a couple of missions in which he needs someone off the grid. In this case, there is possible evidence that Iran is up to something involving nuclear bombs. The money trail leads to an art gallery in Geneva, which explodes just after Marc enters it.
Marc is unexpectedly reunited with Kitra Korban, whom he had met and fallen in love with in Israel in Rare Earth. He’s had to break off the relationship: she wanted him to stay and help lead the kibbutz her family led, but his calling was elsewhere. She had been notified by a stranger that she needed to warn Marc that he was in danger, and thus she became embroiled in his latest mission. While they both long to see each other, they also feel awkward and helpless, knowing nothing can change between them.
The Strait of Hormuz is an actual location, a narrow passage from the Persian Gulf to the ocean. In the story, American and other officials want to stop a ship they think contains components of an Iranian bomb before it gets to the Strait, but doing so will be interpreted as an act of war. In Marc’s investigation he finds unanticipated allies and enemies and follows trails that lead nowhere until he finally realizes what the actual Iranian operation and target is. But will he be in time to prevent it? And what casualties might occur in the process?
Action, adventure, espionage, an international flavor, and Christian faith elements woven in a natural and realistic way are hallmarks of this book. The pace is tense, fast most times, but Bunn handles even the stillness or times of uncertainty well. It’s a hard book to lay aside.
Strait of Hormuz is the third in the Marc Royer series, Lion of Babylon being the first and Rare Earth the second. I don’t think you have to have read those books to understand this one – enough information is given to comprehend the connections here – but you would probably enjoy this more fully for having read those.
(This review will also be linked to Semicolon‘s Saturday Review of Books.)