techno-thriller

Review of ‘5th Floor Below’

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While conducting research on space debris at a top-secret facility near Haifa, Dr. Naama Kashti is exposed to an unknown substance that triggers rapid changes in her body, leading to the belief that she has stumbled upon the secret to immortality. Her discovery causes shock waves around the world, with foreign intelligence agencies and the world religious communities shaken to their cores.

5th Floor Below by Manahem Misgav is a riveting techno thriller that follows Naama and her friends and family as they come to grips with a discovery that can change the history of humanity, but that also causes seismic changes in their personal lives. A fascinating story translated from Hebrew, it has a few glitches, no doubt caused by slight errors in translation, it combines futuristic sci-fi with international intrigue and voyages of personal discovery. I was also a bit disappointed at the inconclusive ending.

I give it three stars.

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Review of ‘Robin Hood Hacker Collection’

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Ronnie is a world-class hacker. She and her assistant, Quirk, specialize in hacking into the financial systems of wealthy, and corrupt, corporations, and redistributing their ill-gotten gains to the needy—after, of course, taking a modest commission. The Robin Hood Hacker is on the FBI’s radar, and FBI Special Agent Zachary Hunt has an obsession with nabbing this cunning criminal. When he finally comes face-to-face with her, and discovers that contrary to the FBI profile, the hacker’s a woman, not a man, and is not working alone, he fails to catch her, but the two establish an emotional connection that leads him to conduct unauthorized communications with her for months.

The Hidden Hand, an ancient, super-secret terrorist organization is planning a replay of the plague pandemic, this time using an engineered version of the bubonic plague, to rid the world of unbelievers. Frustrated by its inability to crack the organization’s communications code, the government turns to Ronnie and Quirk for help, and uses Zachary as a conduit to her. What follows is a stunning tale of adventure, danger, intrigue and betrayal that will keep you feverishly turning pages.

Robin Hood Hacker Collection by Carolyn McCray is a collection of short stories, novellas, and a novel, that introduces Ronnie, Quirk, Zach, and his techno-geek side kick, Warp, and follows them through a series of harrowing adventures as they chase, and are chased by, the Hidden Hand. Though a bit heavy on the global pandemic aspect, this is nonetheless a fascinating tale—or series of tales—that fans of techno-thrillers will enjoy.

I give it four stars.

Review of ‘Ocean of Fear’

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Baxter Cruise is a graduate student in robotics and computer technology who is just cruising through life. Instead of focusing on getting his higher degree, working with his mentor, Professor Sydney Mantis, he’s up to his eyeballs in an illegal computer spamming scheme that allows him to live a life where money flows through his hands like water. One day, when Mantis gives him a thumb drive to deliver to the cold-fish robotics professor, Alessandra Bisch, his life changes forever. Baxter finds Bisch shot to death in her office and himself caught in the cross hairs of a deadly assassin for a drug cartel, and a ‘person of interest’ to both the FBI and CIA.

Ocean of Fear by Helen Hanson is a fast-paced techno-thriller that provides just enough technology (thankfully, without all the techno jargon) to keep geeks interested, and enough thrills and chills to keep you turning the pages. In places, the author mixes up tenses a bit, but not so much that it makes you want to stop reading, and you’ll find yourself sympathizing for Baxter as he tries to work his way out of a no-win situation.

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review. Some of the tense changes disrupted reading in places, but the author kept the pace going, and logically worked out the main character’s dilemma. This one’s a quick read that can be easily finished in an afternoon. I give her five stars for the concept, but have to knock off points for some of the grammatical blips. I’d actually give it three and a half stars, but that rounds up to four anyway. If you like techno thrillers with fast-paced action, this book is a good read, and if you like flawed characters who get it together before the last page, you’ll love it.

Review of ‘The Sky Between Two Worlds: Part 1’

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When two students, Kantak Johnson and Harvey Jamison, discover how to make a truly stealth aircraft, they become the target of two hostile blocs, both willing to go to any lengths to control this new technology.

As events unfold, Johnson, an Alaska native, must use his skills as a pilot to defend his country and his people from an invasion force.

The Sky Between Two Worlds: Part 1 – Apocalypse Denied by Glen E. Books is a thriller that you’ll find hard to put down. Exciting action scenes written with a degree of authenticity that makes you ready to believe the technology is real. Books also takes you inside the characters’ minds in a way that makes the plot totally believable. Part techno-thriller, part science fiction, it’s a must-read book for action-thriller fans. Some of the historical background could have been better melded into the dialogue or doled out in smaller chunks, but since it’s the first in a series, I’m prepared to cut the author some slack.

An almost 4-stars, but I’m only able to give it three. Hopefully the next will move up a notch.