The Mahdi

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The Mahdi
First US edition
Author Philip Nicholson,
writing as A. J. Quinnell
Country United States
Language English
Genre Thriller
Publisher Macmillan (UK)
William Morrow & Co (US)
Publication date
1981 (UK)
1982 (US)
Media type Print (Hardback & Paperback)
Pages 397 pgs (Hardcover)
ISBN 0688006469
OCLC 9736123

The Mahdi is a 1981 thriller novel by Philip Nicholson, writing as A. J. Quinnell.[1][2] The book was published in 1981 by Macmillan in the UK then in January 1982 by William Morrow & Co in the US and deals with political power struggles over a presumed Muslim prophet.[3][4]


The Mahdi follows several characters as they attempt to find a way to negate the threat of Muslim fundamentalism to the Western World's oil supply. Pritchard, a slick triple agent, has been tapped to help solve the problem. He proposes that they find the Mahdi, a prophet that has been prophesied to follow Muhammad, and attempt to control him, as control over the Mahdi would give them control over the Muslim world.


Reception to The Mahdi was mixed,[5] with many reviewers criticizing the book's implausibility.[6] The New York Times gave The Mahdi an overall positive review, calling the plot "elegant" while stating that the lack of a defined villain makes it seem as if there were "less at stake here than there ought to be".[7]


  1. ^ Simon, Reeva (1989). The Middle East in Crime Fiction: Mysteries, Spy Novels and Thrillers from 1916 to the 1980s. Lilian Barber Pr. pp. 61, 64. ISBN 0936508205. 
  2. ^ WILLIAMS, NICK B (Dec 27, 1981). "Bloody Sunday". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  3. ^ Simon, Reeva (2010). Spies and Holy Wars: The Middle East in 20th-Century Crime Fiction. University of Texas Press. p. 49. ISBN 0292723008. 
  4. ^ Labib, Tahar (2007). Imagining the Arab other. I. B. Tauris. pp. 261–273. ISBN 1845113845. 
  5. ^ "Review: The Mahdi". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  6. ^ BROYARD, ANATOLE (January 30, 1982). "Books of The Times; No Escape". New York Times. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  7. ^ Jakab, Elizabeth. "FOREIGN AFFAIRS". New York Times. Retrieved 4 November 2012.