Reviews / Thriller / Crime Fiction

Book review: The Spartak Trigger by Bryce Allen

The Spartak Trigger Bryce Allen

This is the second thriller I read this week from a debut novelist. And just like Kill with a Borrowed Knife, it turned out to be an awesome ride. Let’s take a look at Bryce Allen’s The Spartak Trigger.

The story

Shane Bishop is an amoral cop turned set-up artist. He has become an expert in framing people for criminal offenses in lieu of money. But Shane’s luck runs out as he is outsmarted by a government agent and the ex-cop gets framed for what turns out to be a high profile murder.

Shane’s only hope to get out of the situation rests with a piece of crucial evidence, but he is forced into high risk espionage jobs. He finds himself in mortal danger as he deals with a Russian extremist group and tries to retrieve a computer program that can wipe out the World Wide Web.

What is Spartak Trigger

The US developed an extensive network of communications system in response to Russia’s Sputnik. However, they had no idea that a Russian agent had set up a self-destruct code that can cripple the entire communications system including the Internet. Gentlemen, welcome to the secret of the Spartak Trigger.

What’s so good

The Spartak Trigger follows typical Russian-European thriller style, but it doesn’t feel cliché. For a debut novelist, Mr. Allen delivers a surprisingly decent dose of twist and turns. The plot does seem a bit implausible at times, but it keeps the readers well hooked till the end. Most importantly, the author exhibits fantastic story telling skills.

The characterization is done with a high degree of dexterity. Particularly Shane’s character is extremely well developed and believable.

Thriller fans won’t be disappointed.

About the author:

Bryce Allen was born in Atlantic Canada in the early-1980s. He graduated from the University of King’s College in 2004 with a BA in History and currently resides in the United States.

The Spartak Trigger by Bryce Allen on Amazon

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Reviews / Thriller / Crime Fiction

Book Review: Kill with a Borrowed Knife: or Agent Ai by Michael Wreford

 Kill with a Borrowed Knife: or Agent AiTired of 007? Michael Wreford brings you a brand new MI6 contract agent — George Quant — with sharp claws and deadly intelligence. Nope, you’ll be missing the cold war politics here for Wreford’s Kill with a Borrowed Knife: or Agent Ai is a thriller primarily set in China. Quant doesn’t fight authoritarian despots or space attacks backed by some insane crime genius. This top notch thriller focuses on cyber terrorism.

What’s the story

Quant, a journalist and a freelance MI6 agent, arrives in Beijing to find himself in a deceptive world of spies. He is a fugitive and doesn’t know who to trust. Quant is carrying a DVD labelled as “Citadel” — an antivirus programmed to fight against a unique virus that can attack major networks across the globe with extreme precision. He is the only man who can stop the attack, but odds are heavy and the web of conspiracy around him is intricate and strangulating. Quant is left with difficult choices in the face of extreme danger.

What’s so good

The trademark sign of a good thriller is its pace. Kill with a Borrowed Knife runs faster than a Japanese bullet train. Considering the non-linear plot structure, this is quite surprising. There are flashbacks that throw light on past events from Quant’s life, his relation with a Moscow-based handler called Karen, and developments in Phnom Penh and London. Nonetheless, the interest in the plot never drops.

The characters are remarkably well sketched and multi-layered. The dirty dealings, shady characters in the world of international espionage are delineated meticulously. The dialogues are cool and authentic with touches of Chinese, Russian and French phrases, which make things more credible and believable.

The best thing about Quant is that he is not an invincible superspy like James Bond. The guy is a normal human being vulnerable to attacks and bleeds like any of us.

This is a fun read and recommended for fans of the genre.

About the author

Michael Wreford is the pen name of two authors who collaborated on their debit novel. They are experts in Chinese and International relations and have lived in Beijing, The Hague, Hong Kong, New York, the United Kingdom and Switzerland.

Wreford’s Kill with a Borrowed Knife: or Agent Ai on Amazon

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Vintage Science Fiction Magazine: Planet Stories

planet stories magazine vintage science fiction
Planet Stories was a popular SF magazine primarily aimed at young pulp readers. Total 71 issues of the magazine were published between 1939 and 1955. Some of the top science fiction writers of the time including Leigh Brackett, Philip K. Dick, Isaac Asimov, and Ray Bradbury wrote regularly for Planet Stories.

The content focussed on interplanetary adventures and sword & sorcery stories. Quite a few stories from Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles were first published on Planet Stories. The “Letters to the Editor” column was called “The Vizigraph”. It was a pretty colourful page with interesting letters from readers as well as established writers like Robert Silverberg.

Planet Stories featured some of the most amazing SF artwork of the time. Enigmatic spaceships, scantily clad damsels in distress, deadly villains, alien princesses in alien worlds made up a perfect escapist landscape. Acclaimed artists like Frank Paul, Hannes Bok, Kelly Freas, and Alexander Leydenfrost worked on Planet Stories’ interior artwork and cover.

With a final issue in the summer of 1955, Planet Stories closed down due to serious recession in the pulp market.

Interior Artwork

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