Inside Threat – Excellent Storytelling

Warning: do not begin this book unless you’re committed to staying up all night to finish it because Inside Threat by Jason Elam and Steve Yohn pits good against evil and destroys the politically correct narrative that says all ideas are equally good and all people are just trying their best to get along by their own lights.

The hero, Riley Covington is a professional football player, military veteran, and a Christian. Special Agent Khadi Faroughi is a Muslim. They are in love with each other but have stopped a romantic relationship because their faiths will not allow them to marry. Radical Muslims begin a terror-killing spree across Americaand finally invade the National Cathedral during a high-level funeral and take over three-hundred hostages, which they begin to systematically behead. Riley, Khadi, and a group of supporting characters fight on the side of western civilization against seventh-century barbarism, and bring order, if not victory out of an impossible situation.

There are three stories being told: one is the love story between Riley Covington and Khadi Faroughi. The second is the story of Christianity—Jesus Christ alone saves. The third is the urgency of the battle between a far-superior western culture and seventh-century barbaric Islam. Friendship, loyalty, love, Jesus Christ, and good and evil are woven into a strong story with characters authentic enough to capture the imagination and propel the larger issues to a satisfying yet melancholy conclusion.

There were weaknesses. There were times the dialogue made all the characters sound alike. Unnecessary use of the colloquial (“antsiness,” “nixed,” “decked out”) by the narrator distracted from the otherwise solid storytelling, as if the narrator were trying to assume the main character’s personality. Both hero and heroine were (surprisingly) emotionally immature—this seemed inconsistent with how they behaved otherwise. Mechanically, the date/time stamp at the top of each chapter was a great idea and might have conveyed urgency if had been emphasized somehow. The chapter images on the right side of the page were a good idea and could have conveyed masculinity and determination and very fine weaponry, but they showed up in the paperback as blobs of black.

The weaknesses were far outweighed by the excellent storytelling. The narrative was real and compelling and the characters necessary and believable. Short chapters were even shorter near the end and created the sense that the lstories of love, salvation, and good and evil were racing toward an inevitable conclusion and something must be done! The invitation to know Jesus Christ given at the end was surprisingly well done and seemed natural and appropriate to the story. Hope for our hero and heroine sprang eternal until Riley was discovered dead under the cathedral bench, and the details of the hostage taking and ultimate release were neither overdone nor so vague as to lose the reader’s interest. Brutality was described but did not go beyond what was necessary and proper to the storytelling.

The story was real, and true, and compelling in a way that shows the authors of this work of fiction have a better grasp on the threats of radical Islam to America than do the politicians whose job it is to “provide for the common defense.”

In the end, the good guys win and the bad guys lose the battle, and a young man gives up his life for the woman he loves. These themes are as eternal as creation, and none the worse for wear. I believe American readers crave more solidly good stories like this one, stories with a good moral foundation and with believable characters that act as if they are proud of America rather than ashamed of it.

I received a copy of the book free from Tyndale House publishing in exchange for a review of the book.

NOTE: Elam and Yohn created their hero, professional football player and Army veteran Riley Covington with their first book Monday Night Jihad in August 2008. They followed with a second book, Blown Coverage in December 2008, and wrote the third book in the series, Blackout in December 2009. I plan to go back and read all the books in the series.

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