Author: Russell Brooks
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*Novel provided by the author for a honest review.
For more information please visit Russell Brooks's website.
Where would you hide if you learned the CDC and a major pharmaceutical company unleashed a hyperdeadly microbe on the human race?Pandora's Succession by Russell Brooks is a thrilling action-adventure novel in the style of the classic spy genre with ambitious villains eager to take over the world and a daring hero who will go to any length to stop them. Nicely written, this is a quick read that holds no punches and delivers on all the action it promises.
CIA operative, Ridley Fox, never stopped hunting his fiancé’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 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 other forces —including agents within Japanese Intelligence—want Pandora for themselves. The only ally Fox turns to is a woman from his past who he nearly got killed.
There is a very definite feel about this novel that brings back the world of the classic spy novel. The very defined contrast between good and evil is a big milestone of the genre where villains are easily distinguishable by their insane attempts to conquer the world for whatever nefarious reason. In this novel, the same tried and true premise continues with a woman bent on the extinction of the human race. To accomplish her goals she uses a microbe that after some scientific meddling only attacks DNA with human genetic markers. But, what is an evil genius without a daring secret agent that will stop at nothing to prevent their murderous plans from succeeding? Enter Ridley Fox, a troubled spy eager to avenge the death of his fiancee. However, while his vengeance may be pretty straight forward the complexities surrounding the group he's hunting and who is truly behind the murder, are not.
The story becomes quite complex as the situation unfolds. Mind control, pharmaceutical labs, and seemingly corrupt foreign officials all lead to a very action packed adventure as Fox continues to follow the leads wherever they take him. Brooks does a marvelous job at planning out the novel as the threads are painstakingly placed leading not only Fox but the reader on a journey to unravel who is behind the plot to unleash Pandora. With subtle clues pointing at the true master mind and little hints that point to how she accomplishes her goals, Brooks succeeded in making this a suspenseful mystery with well written action scenes packed in throughout.
The characters themselves, however, while nicely written fell a bit flat with me. Fox is a troubled agent bent on revenge for his murdered fiancee. There is a real lack of any real development in his character with his main thoughts being geared towards how to disarm the person in front of him and how to evade detection by the various factions bent on killing him before he can succeed in destroying them. There is little emotional appeal from his pain as we only see the tragedy that he suffered through in brief glimpses. Because of this and the overall disconnect of his personality, I was left a little disappointed, unsure of who Ridley Fox truly was. But, despite this, I actually did like him. He was a wonderfully intense character that I only wished was further explored. And what is a James Bond-like hero without his female counterpart? We as readers definitely need a heroine to offset all the action and add a little spice of female intrigue and thus we are given Dr. Nita Parris. I really found her character to be a bit better written then Fox, with more in depth thoughts about her feelings and thoughts towards not only Fox, but her mission. She's smart, resourceful and really a pretty tough woman. But, she still has a mystique about her as we aren't exactly sure where her loyalties lie at times, especially after being exposed to Clarity, a powerful drug used to brain wash its victims. And without going into much detail and spoiling the ending, let me just say the master mind behind it all is the epitome of insanity. The extent of the psychosis is wonderfully captured as is the pure malice presented creating an interesting nemesis that contrasts greatly against the hero's persona.
And while the novel is nicely written with flowing action and suspense, I would have liked to see more. More in depth exploration in Pandora, how it was discovered and about the science behind it. However, I must admit that towards the end, the novel did seem to encompass a more rounded scientific aspect. I just would have liked to have seen it earlier! Also, more characterization would have been wonderful as I found myself liking but not really being engaged by the characters. If as much attention had been paid to them as the action then this would have easily been a must read for any lover of spy novels.
As it stands, this was a fast read that delivered everything that it promised: action and adventure! While a little lacking in character development, this is a perfect read for when you're on the go and needing a lighter, but still interesting read.
My Rating: 3 out of 5 Scars
Thanks for the review, Wenj.
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