Retired software mogul Peter Walker receives a mysterious message asking him to travel to Copenhagen. Intrigued by the faded picture contained therein and with nothing better to do with his time he flies off to Europe. Peter quickly finds himself caught up in an international web of intrigue high-tech sabotage and murder. With his financial resources tech skills and contacts he may be able to thwart the terrorists and bring sanity back to a world gone mad.
The author’s idea is interesting his writing is much better than average and his pacing is spot on. His characterization of the heroes is superb but a bit lacking for some of the villains whose motivation is uncertain. Unfortunately Raybourne’s exceptional writing cannot overcome a dubious plot and lack of realism. The author did not do his homework and this indolence sabotages an otherwise brilliant debut novel.
Raybourne should have vetted his work with someone who understands real-life combat. For example in one scene an incompetent assassin comes up behind Peter as he is about to enter his hotel room shoves him inside knocking him to the floor and then attacks him with a ten-inch knife. Our hero manages to poke the bad guy in the eye bash him over the head with a water bottle and escape. Sounds reasonable until you try to recreate the scene for yourself. Lie on the floor with a taller person standing above you holding a ruler in his hand. Now try to touch his face with your finger before he can poke you with the ruler and you’ll quickly discover that it is not possible. Anyone with training would have kept his victim in close while stabbing him repeatedly so that he couldn’t get away or fight back.
Peter is a forty-two-year-old techie who jogs a bit to say in shape but has no military or martial arts experience. Had he been named Bourne or Bond or had a large organization and bodyguards to protect him the story might have been plausible. In reality however our hero’s journey should have ended abruptly on page 122 with his head suddenly dissolving into a fine pink mist. Unbelievably two professional snipers miss a close-range shot from an optimal angle with no wind or distraction. These guys routinely hit their targets at 1000 meters and consistently make headshots at 500 meters in combat conditions yet somehow manage to miss this oblivious civilian.
Raybourne is a promising writer with interesting ideas and solid skills. If he takes appropriate steps to vet his work he could become an author well worth following.
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