Stone the Devil – Jac Simensen

(Reviewed by J.D. Jung)

They say that money is power, so what would happen if an American billionaire decided to take international affairs into his own hands? Specifically, what if he could change the balance of power in the Middle East? Now that’s a scary thought.

However that’s exactly what happens in Jac Simensen’s fast-paced thriller, Stone the Devil. A wealthy defense contractor and a retired general carefully plan a covert non-military, but violent operation to weaken Iran. This means no American military casualties will be incurred. They slowly and strategically arrange this, taking all possibilities into consideration, so the operation can’t fail. Unfortunately, innocent people are selected as unwilling pawns in their scheme.

Simensen slowly introduces numerous characters in many parts of the country from various ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, who will unknowingly play a part in this conspiracy. Their lives and stories are fascinating in themselves. You may even wonder how you’ll track of all of them. Don’t worry; Simensen is a master at making sure that you do. Remember, they’re all relevant.

Though the story synopsis on the back of the book states the motives for these powerful men, I don’t think it is evident in the novel; and I like that. Instead of protecting the world from Iran’s nuclear capabilities, maybe their motive is to do this simply because they can—power for power’s sake. Will they succeed?

At fewer than 200 pages, this novel is quick and fascinating. I give Stone the Devil “ four bookmarks”, “a must-read”, partially for the character development and the story itself, but equally for the thoughts that it will provoke in your head and the fear and possibilities that will linger in your mind for days and maybe weeks to come. How do you define “evil” and are there degrees? Is some necessary to prevent the world’s destruction? Should man decide who lives and who is sacrificed for the greater good? Who is to decide what that greater good actually is? What happens when power goes unchecked? That only begins to scratch the surface. You may also find yourself taking this book in many different directions.

For example, the following scenario keeps haunting me. What would happen if Congress let itself be duped by a president, a vice-president with financial motives and a secretary of defense whose plan was to engage in a war to weaken American security by destroying Iran’s most powerful enemy? Add to that, hundreds of thousands of American soldiers wounded or killed in the process. The end result would be that the world was more fragile, less safe and that Iran would be more powerful than ever. Which is worse:  Simensen’s story or mine? Think about it.

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