Book Review: Pandora’s Succession July 14, 2011Posted by Jaidis in 2 Tree Reviews, Book Reviews.
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For fans of Barry Eisler, Robert Ludlum, and Clive Cussler. Where would you hide if you learned the CDC and a major pharmaceutical company unleashed a hyperdeadly microbe on the human race?
CIA operative, Ridley Fox, never stopped hunting his fiancée’s killers—a weapons consortium called The Arms of Ares. When an informant leads him to an old bunker outside of Groznyy, Chechnya, Fox is captured, beaten, and left for dead. When the informant rescues him, Fox learns that his capture was no coincidence: someone had set him up—possibly another government agent. Fox barely escapes after learning that Ares has acquired a hyperdeadly microbe—called Pandora—that is believed to have wiped out ancient civilizations. The trail leads Fox to Tokyo where he discovers that people within the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Japanese Intelligence want Pandora for themselves. The only person Fox can trust is a woman from his past who he nearly got killed.
The Arms of Ares, a global criminal organization staffed by former KGB officers, has gained possession of the most powerful biological weapon in history and is intent on selling it to terrorist groups worldwide. Standing in their way is elite CIA operative Ridley Fox with his own personal vendetta: Ares murdered his fiancee. When the weapon is stolen by a doomsday cult called The Promise the chase is on. Who will get to them first, Fox or Ares? Or will The Promise with its brainwashed followers and army of ninjas succeed in its plan to exterminate mankind?
This action-packed, globe-trotting thriller has all the classic ingredients of an enjoyable, if rather cliched, James Bond style adventure. However, the novel also has its flaws, some minor, and some rather more serious.
The book is unashamedly cliched. In terms of the general plot this is not necessarily a problem and can help the book feel instantly comfortable, but in the dialogue and action, the corny moments quickly become annoying. A little more imagination in the execution would have significantly improved the novel.
The author has clearly researched his overseas locations well and generally does a good job at making them feel believable by inserting little tidbits of local information. Unfortunately, this level of research does not extend to the science, computers and weaponry. In a novel, such as this it is permissible to take a few liberties in order to improve the story but they should be taken in a calculated manner and only where necessary. Particularly important are details about weaponry as thriller fans will instantly spot mistakes – simply knowing the names of a few exotic weapons is not sufficient.
Further damaging the credibility of the story are the numerous flaws in logic and continuity errors. These should have been fixed during the editing process, as should the typos (I counted 39 but bet there are more!)
The most important element in any thriller is tension. Ultimately, this is the biggest failing in this novel. The hero is too perfect for us to ever doubt his success and the main characters instantly figure out what’s going on with insufficient evidence to inform them. This is a real shame as having created a plot involving insiders, impostors and frequent double-crossing the opportunities for building tension are legion. The most glaring failures (and the easiest to fix) are those where the hero finds himself in a sticky situation. The hero’s plan is consistently described in detail and then soon afterwards we read the near identical description of his actions as the plan is executed perfectly (except for on one occasion in the opening chapter). It would have been far more satisfying if, instead of telling us what the hero is about to do, the author had built up the difficulty of the situation before surprising us with the hero’s solution.
Overall, this novel reads like a first draft. There is potential in the plot and this could, after several re-drafts, become a real page-turner. Even in it’s present form, there are far worse novels to pick up. However, in this competitive genre, you will never run out of thrillers to read that are of far better quality and so I cannot recommend purchasing this one.