Tag Archives: cyber-thriller

Review: Cloak, by Timothy Zahn

CloakCloak, by Timothy Zahn (Silence in the Library Publishing, 2014)

In a secret room, two men make a choice: Will they kill one man to save a nation? Well, one man plus enough bystanders that nobody knows he was the original target. Turning him into a martyr would only give him more power.

So begins the best thriller I’ve read in a long, long time. A nuclear weapon is stolen in India and transported toward an unknown target, amid as many red herrings as the planners can spread. In the US, a technological breakthrough is also stolen: specially-treated cloth that, when draped over an object, presents the illusion of invisibility.

Readers know these thefts are linked, but the investigating officials don’t—until it may be too late. There’s a lot that readers don’t know, however, like who is private detective Adam Ross and why did he rescue a key person of interest from assassins—and then keep her away from the police?

Cloak has a large cast of characters, especially in the opening chapters to set everything in motion. Because of that, I’d recommend reading a fair-sized chunk to get started. Otherwise you may forget who’s who. After that, well, stop if you can.

Hugo-award-winning author Timothy Zahn is known for his science fiction novels, including best-sellers within the Star Wars universe. I hesitate to call Cloak science fiction, because except for that one piece of technology, it could come straight from tomorrow’s headlines. Perhaps it’s better labelled a cyber-thriller.

My favourite line describes a man as observed by the female police officer who approaches him:

…he greeted the sudden appearance of a uniformed cop with the kind of jolted wariness most people reserved for unexpected snakes in the garden. [Kobo version: page 6 of chapter 34]

Timothy Zahn is a master strategist, both in terms of military and politics. He nails every aspect of the plot, creating characters we can root for even when we’re not sure of their full game plan. All I can say about the ending is that you won’t see it coming. J

Cloak would make a fantastic movie, except that Hollywood would likely ruin it by adding sex and hardcore profanity. The novel contains mild profanity in places, and I could have done without that, but it wasn’t enough to diminish my overall reading experience.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Triple Threat, by H.L. Wegley

Triple Threat, by HL WegleyTriple Threat, by HL Wegley (Harbourlight Books, 2014)

If you like novels that kick up the adrenaline on the first page, this one’s for you. Triple Threat is book 4 in the Pure Genius series, and it features Jennifer and Lee’s adopted daughter, Katie, who’s about to turn 21. Timeline-wise, it’s five years after Moon over Maalaea Bay.

Katie is doing her doctoral research on tracking terrorist messages on the Internet. When she discovers a triple threat aimed at the US (fire, power blackouts and disease) she and research partner Joshua West don’t have time to convince the FBI. They have to get proof – and stay alive long enough to deliver it.

Triple Threat reads like a movie. Some of the action is a bit past the believable point for me, but it’s good, clean fun. There’s a spiritual element too. Katie and Josh discover a mutual attraction, but she isn’t willing to have a relationship with a man who’s not a Christian. Josh thinks faith is for people who can’t see it doesn’t work. They have some interesting chats as Katie shares how her brilliant mind sees reasons for her faith.

Because the novel deals with cyber crimes, there are technical terms that get thrown around to give context, terms the characters would likely use. Confession: those sentences were over my head, so I skimmed them. Didn’t affect my enjoyment of the story any more than if the characters had been talking medicine or botany.

I haven’t yet read book 1 in this series, but the others have been good reads. HL Wegley writes clean, action-based fiction that tackles real-life issues like terrorism and human trafficking. If you like novels that tackle grittier subjects yet won’t leave you traumatized, check out the Pure Genius series. If you want to start at the beginning, book 1 is Hide and Seek.

Author HL Wegley describes his novels’ atmosphere as “A climate of suspense and a forecast of stormy weather.” For more about the author and his books, visit hlwegley.com.

[Review copy from my personal library.]

Review: Eternity Falls, by Kirk Outerbridge

Eternity Falls, by Kirk Outerbridge (Marcher Lord Press, 2009)

Rick Macey is one of the best at tracking down—and shutting down—terrorists and other high-profile criminals. No longer working for the US government, he takes on projects that catch his personal interest. The novel opens with him in pursuit of a serial sniper, and the pace doesn’t slow as he jumps into a new case.

The year is 2081 and the future is a grim place where I wouldn’t want to live despite the technological advances. Cars have an auto-pilot feature. People have “neural nets” that sound like internet-enabled brains, only better. Science’s quest to extend human life has gone beyond cloning and cyborgs to the “Miracle Treatment” that lets people live forever.

The problem: one of the Treatment’s early takers has been found dead of natural causes. Macey’s assignment is to prove it’s the result of terrorist activity. He takes the job because the sole clue points to a memory from his own past.

Macey knows all the tricks, and he’s an excellent noir-type detective. He’s paired with the self-centred but attractive Sheila Dunn from the Miracle Treatment company’s head office, and as danger throws them closer together he tries to keep his distance. Macey has too many secrets for romance.

Eternity Falls has a satisfying number of twists, turns and revelations. The stakes start out high and get higher, masterfully woven by the author. This does not feel like a debut novel; it has complexity and depth and a detailed back-story that surfaces in bits and pieces as needed, to keep readers guessing.

I wasn’t sure if I liked the novel at first. The world is so dark. And the first characters to claim allegiance to God are either terrorists or seem like cult members. Knowing Marcher Lord Press, I reasoned there had to be more to the faith element than this. And I decided I trusted Macey even if he was surrounded by unlikely individuals.

Eternity Falls is billed as a cyber-thriller, dark PI fiction and cyberpunk. It’s high-tech, darker and more violent than I usually read, and Macey finds some interesting spiritual insights while he’s trying to keep himself and Sheila alive. He’s a fine story hero.

If you like thrillers and science fiction, and you’re not afraid of characters who mention God, check it out. I enjoyed it and I’ll be looking for more from Kirk Outerbridge. You can read a sample of Eternity Falls here.

You can read an interview with Bermudian author Kirk Outerbridge here. Eternity Falls is his first novel, and winner of the 2010 Carol Award for speculative fiction. A second Rick Macey novel is now out as well: The Tenth Crusader.

[Review copy from my personal library]