Plot or Premise
Amelia Pearce has a normal enough life, but with a soon-to-be ex-lover, she heads home to her parent’s house to heal her ego and ease the transition. However, she finds her life shattered by the truth about her father — he is not a simple journalist, but an operative for “The Network”, a ultra-secret organization of operatives on loan from the major intelligence agencies of the various countries with one goal: combat terrorism. It’s like James Bond and his counterparts working for Interpol, with only one person knowing all the agents. The father is killed by an assassin, as is Amelia’s mother, but Amelia manages to escape and starts using all the skills her father taught to her as a child (through a long-running series of “survival” games).
What I Liked
The book was written by Warren Murphy and Molly Cochrane, two of my favourite authors whether they use their own names or the “Dev Stryker” nom-de-plume. So, the style, the dialogue, the plot tools…all are superb, but I’m a little biased. This book is also unique in the field — the main character (Amelia) doesn’t even make an appearance until several chapters into the book. And seemingly-major characters keep getting killed off! There are not a whole lot of people left by the end of the book, so it becomes somewhat easier to follow. And killing off major characters does keep the reader guessing all the way through.
What I Didn’t Like
The bad guys are mostly one-dimensional except for the assassin, with the plot revolving around plans for Libyan terrorists to poison the water supply of America. And Amelia has the added problem that she can’t seem to trust anyone, even the head of the Network. Yet as much as I liked the writing, and as much as I liked the plot twists with the death of major characters, it made it very hard to care about some of the characters — why bother if they are killed off half-way through the book? As I said above, Amelia is the main character but doesn’t appear until several chapters into the book. Her father seemed to be the main character for the first few chapters, and then he dies. Four other key characters bite the dust before the end of the book too, nicely spread out through the book so you lose a character every couple of chapters. Too bad if you care about one…but after the first two check out, its hard to keep your interest.
After the death of the father, you find out that Amelia isn’t quite the helpless person she is initially portrayed as, because her father taught her survival skills — and yet she never wondered about her father? She always wrote him off as a small CIA bureaucrat or journalist, yet in the next breath talks about him in almost superhuman qualities? The collaboration between Murphy and Cochrane is usually excellent — in this book, it reads more like they disagreed about the characters and maybe wrote chapters on their own. Kind of like the classic writing game that one person writes one chapter with twists and turns, and then asks the next person to pull the next chapter together, mesh the various elements, and give their own spin to it.
The Bottom Line (★★★☆☆)
Too many plot twists, too many deaths.