Reviewed by jj redfearn
Enjoyable formulaic thriller in which girls meet sticky ends, nasty Nazis and their nasty descendants hide nasty secrets and secretive intelligence agencies keep on saving our unlikely art-expert expert-swordsman hero from bloodthirsty terrorists. He is, btw, an untrained amateur match for any special services agent on the planet. With a bit of ancient artifact hunting thrown in (you'll never guess which one), a critical coded message ‘febluis’ that the world’s best codebreakers can’t crack and the most dimwitted Home Secretary anyone could wish for, it all makes for a splendid story.
The kick-off terrorist incident is far and away the most gripping incident in the E-Codex. It has a ring of possibility about it, combined with a degree of being something that it would be almost impossible to prevent, should someone try it. Nothing following lives up to that scene. More incidents do follow, but the action switches to the search for the mythical, or not mythical, artifact.
Heroically trundling around scenic bits of Europe and the USA (there’s no north American market for books like this if neither the hero nor the locations include the States) accompanied by a delectable PA and an ex-SBS minder terrorist attacks follow wherever Jamie leads. Is it coincidence, is Jamie a secret Scottish terrorist, is he being set-up? Did I mention scenic Scotland?
The twist in the end is that there are two twists in the end. One of them is clear from the outset, its just not certain which is the villain of the piece. The other seems to be an afterthought, crudely welded-on like armour on a T-34, seemingly added late in the day and definitely not woven into the plot to allow the book to finish in a marginally tidy fashion.
Great travel reading and eminently filmable!
In a forty year career in IT John programmed Elliot 803s, Data General Novas, ICL1903s, an IBM 360-158, a VAX, several Perkin Elmer boxes, Intel 8080s, Univac and Burroughs machines before becoming a Systems Analyst and then an IT Architect and Strategy manager. He’s programmed in assembler, Fortran, Jean, Algol, Basic, Cobol, Prolog, Lisp and, though he’d never admit it, Java.
He’s worked for the Royal Greenwich Observatory, Marconi, Lloyds Register, Lynwood Scientific, the Northern Hemisphere Observatory and in the upstream, downstream and trading sectors of an oil major.
His main interests are in IT, Business management and its lack of understanding of IT risk, Ancient History, Napoleonic history and the Naval history of the time. He’s a Fellow of the British Interplanetary Society, is a CEng and a CITP and is a member of the Grand National Archery Society.
He has a dry sense of humour. He believes that no-one with any sense believes what spreadsheets tell them. He agrees with Dilbert on what an IT manager could do on a project with half the budgeted time and half the budgeted money. He’s a firm believer in responsibilities rather than rights. And he doesn’t tolerate fools. Period.
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