THE PERSIAN PROJECT by Mark Irving
The year is 1978 and Iran is in turmoil. Political, religious and societal forces have coalesced to threaten the shah's reign-and imperil U.S. interests in the area at the height of the Cold War. Despite disarmament talks with the Soviet Union, the U.S. fears deception, and has taken steps to monitor Soviet activity in the area.
In a timely and perceptive prequel to his popular Clint Jagger series of international thrillers, Mark Irving mines his public affairs experience and expertise in Tehran in the mid-1970s to create a work of fast-paced fiction that brings alive the series of events of that period that were a harbinger of today's headlines-and the threat of a nuclear catastrophe in the Middle East. Irving introduces the indefatigable Jagger, the former Special Ops veteran of Vietnam, who has settled in the Colorado Rockies to escape his wartime demons. Savoring the solitude and privacy of his new lifestyle, Jagger reluctantly accepts a special assignment from his former Marine commander-who had saved his life-to investigate the failure of state-of-the-art underwater detection devices monitoring Soviet submarine activity in the Caspian Sea.
Arriving in Tehran under cover as a telecommunications consultant, Jagger quickly discovers that the Soviets have bribed an Iranian technician to sabotage the devices as they are being prepared for installation by a team of U.S. SEALs. His assignment completed, he prepares to return home when he learns of massive equipment thefts from the Telecommunications Company of Iran. Because he has befriended the TCI director, Jagger postpones his departure to investigate the thefts. His investigation leads to his arrest by the notorious SAVAK and torture in Evin Prison at the hands of the sadistic commander of the prison. Finally released, he vows to stay in Iran until he avenges his treatment. His decision is also influenced by an unexpected development-he has fallen deeply in love.
Daily demonstrations, riots and bloodshed -and lack of support from the U.S.-persuade the shah to flee Iran. Jagger witnesses the shah's departure, the arrival of the Ayatollah Khomeini and subsequent rise in Islamic militarism, the takeover of the U.S. Embassy, and the hostage crisis. With U.S. intelligence assets in Iran non-existent and desperate to have an agent on the ground, the National Security Agency asks Jagger to remain in Iran as an operative, and to dismantle its secret listening post in the Elborz Mountains. Finishing that mission, he leads a makeshift team in a successful venture to free a key American embassy worker who has been isolated from the other hostages. Despite his misgivings about the plan, he participates in the attempt to free the remaining hostages. When it ends in disaster, he is disconsolate and yearns to return to his beloved Rockies. But one more adventure awaits.
In an explosive climax that foretells current headlines, Jagger joins forces with an undercover Mossad agent to destroy a secret laser enrichment project the new regime hopes to use in its upcoming war with Iraq-while avenging his torture in Evin Prison.