This weekend I had another binge session – ran my iPad battery down to zero on Friday night (boo) and recharged the sucker to wrap up “One Night in Tehran” by Luana Ehrlich on Saturday over coffee.
The write ups seemed to promise me a read that was my kind of Christian Fiction, the kind that weaves the faith and Bible into “real life” gritty scenarios (here’s an interesting read on the subject). Since that’s what my own book series attempts to accomplish I was intrigued and a bit excited; I haven’t found much in the same blend of genres (supernatural, thriller, action, Bible-based) that appealed to me. No “Left Behind”, thank you.
Well, “One Night in Tehran” delivered.
Mrs. Ehrlich has created a great main character in covert intelligence officer Titus Ray. Even better, the story is told first-person (just like “Swords of Flame” – yay!) which I personally think is much harder to pull off than third-person narrative. As I was explaining to my daughter yesterday, first-person (hopefully) adds the dimension of the protagonist’s thoughts to the dialogue and plot events. I love first-person stories; they allow me to listen in to the character’s self-talk and view on people and things. Titus delivers on all counts with a Sam Spade snarkyness to boot.
The depiction of modern life in the CIA and the “tradecraft” of espionage was also excellent in the book. As a bit of a student of modern military ops as well as U.S. history, I found myself drawn into new thinking about what it’s like for a covert operative to come back from a long deep-cover mission in a foreign culture. A big opportunity for Mrs. Ehrlich in future books is to further explore how Titus’s total immersion in other cultures affects his worldview and interactions with people as an American.
I smiled at the choice of Norman, Oklahoma as the stateside setting for the plot and the author’s setup of why Titus would go back there after returning from the field. Sorry, I’ll still take Southern California… but it was interesting to learn more about OK. Looking forward to more physical descriptions of the weather seasons and local lore of Norman as the books progress.
So where’s the Christianity? Titus is exposed to it when he is hidden by Iranian Christians and exposed to faith in Jesus Christ in the face of certain persecution, torture and death. I won’t give the story away but Mrs. Ehrlich does a great job of leading us through Titus’s progression towards the Lord and how he begins to change outwardly. This is probably the highlight of the book for me and I can’t wait to see where it takes him as far as making decisions in the face of his career of deceit.
Book Two in the series is entitled “Two Days in Caracas” and a sample is included at the close of the book. I will be getting it, needless to say.
Thanks, Luana Ehrlich for a pleasant binge read.