Talking about this book? Be sure to tag it using #SETAREHDOCTRINE #NetGalley
In the summer of 1945, on the eve of Japan's surrender in World War II, converging Allied armies destroyed the infamous Japanese Unit 731 and its evil architect General Daichi Arakawa, whose ominous viral creation had exterminated thousands of Chinese in occupied Manchuria. Nearly twenty-five years later, however, atrocities in rural Cambodia during the Vietnam War hint of the possible resurrection of the insidious biological nightmare, and a culpable participant in those horrors then, foreshadows a potential return of the weapon of mass destruction today.
Armed with the knowledge of its probable existence in the hands of the Islamic Republic of Iran's Defense Ministry and Revolutionary Guard Corps, People's Republic of China General Tzu Huang enlists the help of retired General Jake Woods, formerly of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency, to help seek out and eliminate those with knowledge of the WMD virus and their attempts to weaponize it. Woods' ability to cobble together a covert operational team from an eclectic background of elite male and female special ops, intelligence, military, and IT specialists, with help from a wealthy financier and old backchannel contacts in the U.S Department of Defense, produces a formidable stealth force out to tackle the problems our government cannot.
Their subsequent mission takes them on a perilous and deadly pursuit throughout the tyrannical and raging quagmires that are the Middle East, with the fate of the entire "Cradle of Civilization" dependent upon their success. From the explosive origins of the team's quest and prosecution in Iran, deviating into the ravaged terrains of Iraq and Syria, the chase terminates in southern Lebanon, mission success eluding the "Co-Op team" in a string of near misses until the bitter and unforeseen ending in the mountains of northern Israel.
""A team of American mercenaries tries to throttle an Iranian biological weapons program in this thriller."" ~ Kirkus Reviews
""Setareh Doctrine is a gripping thriller about a terrifying viral threat, and about the everlasting moral battle between good and evil.
Mark Downer's fast historical thriller Setareh Doctrine concerns a retired general and his talented team, whose ultimate mission is to avoid a mass genocide caused by a viral weapon.
Seventy-five-year-old retired General Jake Woods is on a new mission to expose and stop the spread of a lethal biological weapon that fell in the hands of Iran's Defense Ministry and Revolutionary Guard Corps. When Chinese General Tzu Huang shows up uninvited at Woods's house, he warns him about a viral creation that was used forty years previous to exterminate thousands of people in Mancuria, and that is now being weaponized by Iran to eliminate opponents and create a ""new Persia,"" the Setareh Doctrine.
With the help of Wiston Cromer, a patriotic and wealthy ally, Woods recruits a brilliant team of elite special operatives, intelligence, military, and IT experts; they take the name of the Themis Cooperative. Their goal is to infiltrate Iran's Defense Ministry and prevent the death of thousands of innocent people.
The book jumps back and forth in time and space, taking the Themis Cooperative on an epic, dangerous journey through the Middle East. Its narrative deals with many interesting themes at once, including the immense value of teamwork and friendship, the ethical implications of creating a potentially harmful weapon in order to pursue personal objectives, and the dangers of extremist ideologies in modern society.
The prose is sharp and concise. Despite its multiple layers and twists, the plot is easy to follow and engrossing. It follows its various characters well, zooming in on their actions and thoughts for clarity. Still, because of their quantity, the character index at the beginning of the book proves to be a useful navigational tool.
The book establishes interesting historical contexts with stand-out details, covering the 1970s war in Cambodia and conflicts in the Middle East. Its settings, from the general's home in rural Kentucky where the novel starts, to the mountains of Israel where the story ends, are established using clear descriptions with a strong sense of place and time.
While the characters are compelling, their physical appearances are over-described-especially those of the book's strong women, who are described in predictable terms. Some of the same women have prominent roles within the story; some even drive the narrative, helping to distinguish Setareh Doctrine from other military thrillers.
An elite team that knows that society is in danger leads Setareh Doctrine, a gripping thriller about a terrifying viral threat, and about the everlasting moral battle between good and evil."" ~ Foreword Reviews (Four Stars)