Featured Review: ‘The Libyan Diversion’ by Joel C. Rosenberg


New York Times bestselling author Joel C. Rosenberg, one of the best headline-beating novelist in fiction today, is back with his most thrilling and shocking novel to date.

Following the events of The Beirut Protocol (2021), Special Agent Marcus Ryker returns to once again take on Kairos, a terrorist group responsible for launching devastating attacks in Washington, D.C., London, and Jerusalem. This time around, shortly after returning home, Ryker learns that the effective HQ for Abu Nakba, the head of Kairos and the man behind the recent attacks, has been located in Libya. Ryker personally recommends that the president execute a drone strike, which he does, even though the conditions are less than perfect on the ground. A short while later, intel comes in confirming that the hit was a success. Abu Nakba is dead.

Gearing up for his next assignment, Ryker is suddenly blindsided by a troubling new report out of Libya, which suggests the United States did not, in fact, strike a location being used by Abu Nakba, but rather that they inadvertently hit a civilian building, killing innocent people in the process. Ryler, like the president and everyone else, wants answers, but before long, the media picks up wind of the reports and begins rolling out less-than-favorable coverage, condemning POTUS and anyone who had a hand in the drone strike. Worse, in response to the attack, Kairos vows to hit back, sending a clear and deadly message to America and anyone else who opposes them.

For his role in things, Ryker is grounded, but sitting on the bench isn’t his style, especially when he knows that Kairos may already have cells inside the United States. And as a new threat emerges, one involving a high-profile religious figure, it’s once again up to him to connect the dots before it’s too late . . . and more blood is shed.

After taking a year off between releases, Rosenberg is back and better than ever. After penning numerous trilogies and smaller series previously in his career, Rosenberg finally has his true series guy in Markus Ryker, who has quickly established himself as the man to call in a bad situation. A hero on par with Brad Thor’s Scot Harvath, Ryker anchors what might just be Rosneberg’s best work so far. While that’s subjective, one thing that’s indisputable is that The Libyan Diversion is Rosenberg’s most timely novel to date, even more so than The Third Target (2015), which actually had to be moved up and published faster because of the rise of ISIS in real life, after the author made them the antagonists in his novel. Here, though, Rosenberg hits on several relevant issues, including the speed at which the media can spin a story and how public opinion can drive a narrative, dominating airwaves and talk shows as public outcry rages on. It’s an all too familiar feeling, frankly, and one that many readers, who’ve no doubt seen such things play out over the last several years, especially, will identify with. What Rosenberg does so well, though, is take you into the room with those characters who, for better or worse, are at the center of such unjust outcry. Ryker, rather than feel sorry for himself, knows deep down that the drone strike, just as the book’s title indicates, is a diversion. And rather than becoming defensive, he knows that there’s far more going on than anyone else realizes and puts all his bandwidth into trying to stop what’s coming.

As for the story itself, there are few people better at plotting than Rosenberg, who puts on a masterclass here, weaving his way through various adrenalin-pumping action sequences and moments of nerve-wracking suspense while still taking time to flesh out Ryker and the rest of his cast. Most of all, though, it’s his smart, all-too-possible setup that serves as Kairos’ response to the drone strike in Libya that, without giving anything away, feels a little too real for comfort.

Perfect for fans of Brad Thor and Daniel Silva, Joel C. Rosenberg’s The Libyan Diversion is just the kind of blistering, unflinching, ripped-straight-from-tomorrow’s-headlines thriller that his readers have come to expect.

Book Details

Author: Joel C. Rosenberg
Series: Markus Ryler #5
Pages: 480 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 1496437942
Publisher: Tyndale House Publishers
Release Date: May 16, 2023
Real Book Spy Rating: 9.0/10



Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and is building a growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” is now available. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. And to take part in free, exclusive BOOK CLUBS each month, join The Real Book Spy on Discord.

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