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Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Intelligent Intelligence Thriller
Steven W. Ritcheson
Available at Amazon
"Thomas Jefferson only had it partly right -- eternal vigilance was not only the price of liberty, it was the price of survival ... even a paranoid has enemies. I would regret later that I had not paid more attention to this warning." Charles Rayson, TAG
If you are inspired by finding a nice calming historical read for an evening just to get away from those mundane daily activities, this book is not for you. On the other hand, if you prefer something a bit more adventurous, with pulse-pounding action that will keep you turning pages to see what happens next, something that will keep you from getting your chores done until you finish the book, you'll like it a lot.
In this era of high-tech espionage, the folks in "The Breath of Allah" are constantly trying to keep one step ahead of a complex and ever-changing landscape of bad guys trying to kill them, while developing new ways of using technology to keep ahead. Some of the tools they use are just a hair's breadth away from today's technology, and others will take awhile to be more than fiction, but all are plausible in this new world of black hat and white hat hackers: a spy-vs-spy-vs-techie-vs-techie chess game. The TAG is a team of experts with clandestine operations skills, techie know-how, inventive engineering capabilities, and battle-tested survival skills. Their task is to know more first, to prevent the unthinkable before it happens.
The characters are clear and they ring true, although in this genre it's a lot easier to see the motivations of the "good guys" than the "bad guys" and the bad guys always tend to be a bit sketchier, more compelling in their machinations than in their personalities. But that detracts not at all from the story. There is a complex web of motivations and international players that keeps changing, generating one adventure-packed challenge after another, all connected in ways that are not immediately obvious, which Ritcheson manages to keep straight for the reader, which is not an easy task.
Ritcheson is a first time author, but his story-telling skills are remarkable, since he manages to to take the reader into places and situations they've never been in without making it feel unreal. Also the technical stuff never gets overbearing: it's in plain language, geared to what software does rather than how it works, and keyed to the action. The book ends in a way that makes it quite possible to continue the adventures of the TAG (Technology Applications Group) into a very promising series, should the author be up for it. There's a bit of MacGyver in the techie-tools challenges that make you wonder what they'll think of next. In its genre, this one gets a 5; I would highly recommend it to anyone.
Side Note: There is another book by the same title, so be sure you have the right one, or you will be sorely disappointed.
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