18 Billion
Author:  Jack Gresham
Pages: 336
Release Date: July 2009 – Synergy Books
ISBN 978-0-982314005

Terrorists claim to have planted a nuclear bomb in Washington DC and demand access to the New York Federal Reserve Bank or they will set it off.  So begins the rather far fetched 18 Billion.  Without any confirmation of the bombs existence the terrorists are given access to the Federal Reserve Bank, where they make off with the title’s 18 billion, dollars that is.  The terrorists transport the money out of the country and turn it over to Mohammed of Babylon.  Mohammed is an Islamic religious leader who condemns violence and some believe is the Mahdi.   Mohammed secretly meets with the President of the United States and makes a secret agreement to return the money in exchange for the removal of U.S. troops from Iraq, amongst other things.  18 Billion is billed as Book One of the Mohammed of Babylon series.

I tried to like this book, there are parts of an interesting story in it, however the problems pushed the interesting parts aside.  Without going into a point by point explanation I’ll just hit the high points.  While the writing style wasn’t bad, I had to reread some paragraphs to understand what they were saying and a lot of the dialogue seemed forced and unnatural.  Government agents make no mistakes in 18 Billion, and their ability to trace e-mail and phone calls seems greatly exaggerated.  I was willing to over look these issues, along with the unbelievably of the U.S. Government giving terrorists $18 billion based solely on the claim they would detonate a nuclear bomb if they didn’t get it, however there was one more problem which ended any chance of me reading further books in the series.  Towards the end of the book, the President’s spiritual advisor- Reverend Daniel Barkley, who previously had almost no role in the book, is sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner with friends when they are joined by a “Mr. Goodson”, a friend of Barkley’s unknown to the others.  After dinner Goodson leaves and no one except Barkley can remember his being there.  This incident had nothing else to do with the rest of the book; I can only think readers will hear more about this character in later books.  I will leave it to them to find out if Mohammed is the Mahdi and if Goodson becomes God’s son and the world becomes a wonderful place.  In a short four pages Mr. Gresham ended any chance of me reading future books in this series.    I’m obviously not the target audience for this book, and while I could be wrong, I think this book is aimed at the Left Behind crowd.  So if you’re a fan of that series you might want to give 18 Billion a try.  

I received a review copy of this book from Phenix & Phenix Literary Publicists.