17384524[1]A former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations once noted that “Patriotism… is not short, frenzied outbursts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime.”

This mind-set is the framework from which Marc Royce operates. A U.S. intelligence operative, Royce specializes in being the man on the ground in tenuous situations with little prep time and no backup—the man whose instincts and judgment can be trusted when Intel is sketchy and allies are hard to find. Royce is the man you count on when you can count on nothing else, and that makes him the perfect hero for the imminent threat facing the Middle East in Davis Bunn’s latest release, Strait of Hormuz.

The third installment in Bunn’s Marc Royce series, this story opens with Royce being sent to Switzerland to follow up on a lead, but when he arrives, his lead is dead, a bomb is about to go off, and the woman he cares about walks into the building right before detonation. Readers are dropped straight into the action and hit the ground running as they follow Marc Royce into the fray.

The sense of urgency established in the first chapter builds by degrees as the reader joins Royce in his pursuit for answers in the midst of political posturing between competing intelligence agencies and rival governments. On this mission, Marc is searching for a missing freighter carrying what is believed to be guidance systems for long-range missiles. U.S. officials fear that the components, shipped from North Korea, are headed for Iran, and recent Intel indicates that the Atlantic Coast of the United States may be the target.

The United States wants to intercept the cargo before it reaches the Strait of Hormuz, the channel of water linking the Persian Gulf with the open ocean, but the ship has gone off the grid. Marc’s job is to discover the ship’s destination and find the people responsible for its movements before military intervention is necessary.

Royce’s trip to Switzerland was supposed to connect him with the man facilitating the financial transactions for the movement of arms. Instead, it leads him to an ally inside Israel’s intelligence agency and an informant with connections to Iran. These unlikely allies work together to prevent a serious international incident and, in the process, find they have more in common than they ever imagined. Their love for country is surpassed only by their commitment to Christ. Trapped inside a world that would divide them by geography, politics, and culture, these patriots transcend those arbitrary barriers to form a cohesive team.

This unique collaboration allows them to find answers to the questions their governments aren’t asking and puts them all on the front lines of a deadly assault aimed at America’s strongest ally in the Middle East. Tension mounts as the team is forced to work against time and outside official governmental parameters to prevent a biochemical attack on Israel and to apprehend the man responsible for its implementation.

Davis Bunn’s skill at weaving faith and integrity into the fictional world of covert ops without sacrificing the adventure and intrigue inherent to the genre is unparalleled. Fans of Bourne and Bond could easily identify with Marc Royce’s world and would, no doubt, come to respect a man who values progress over politics and pursues justice rather than glory. Royce’s keen intellect, combat skills, and decisive command make him an admirable warrior while his sincerity and compassion make him an attractive hero. This combination accounts for the character’s overall appeal to both male and female readers.

Also appealing is the view of the world we see through Marc Royce’s eyes. This series depicts more than the age-old conflict of nation rising against nation. It casts a vision for a world where leadership is defined by sacrifice, unity is prized over power, and peace is found in obeying the call of God. In Strait of Hormuz, Davis Bunn offers readers a model of hope for a world in turmoil and a picture of faith that perseveres in spite of the obstacles.

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series, in large part, because Bunn portrays a world where peacemakers are recognized as the sons of God and the meek really do inherit the earth. I find the more I read Bunn’s work, the more I want to live in that world. How about you?