Let me start by saying that I really enjoyed Da Vinci code and its prequel, so I was optimistic about this read. Unfortunately, I was horribly disappointed. I am not sure if the culprit is Mr. Brown's lack of knowledge about this subject (compared to the subject matter of Da Vinci) or my relative depth of knowledge about it (I happen to run data centers for a living) but I was extremely disappointed in the book.
The characters were interesting and the basic concept to start with was OK, but from there it degenerated rapidly. By the end of the book I was figuring things out quicker than most of the characters (always a bad sign) and the majority of the plot line had become completely unbelievable. As with all techo-thrillers, the bottom line is that when the machine is run-amok or in horrible danger... simply turn the thing off. Since this solution is so elegantly simple, writers from Asimov to Star Trek have been inventing convulted ways to keep their machines from being turned off, and even more convulted reasons why those mechanisms would be built. Just in case Mr. Brown decides to write in this genre again, here are some good rules of thumb:
1) Rule #1 of data center design - The EPO (emergency power off) is always located at a controlled and secure location near the exits (there can be multiple, after all) to the data center... not 3 stories below the data center in some goofy catacombe of generators and cooling equipment.
2) Rule #1 of computer system design - If your $3 billion computer runs so hot it can explode... put a $10 temperature sensor in it so it can shut itself down to keep that from happening accidentally.
3) Rule #1 of being an international assassin - silencers don't work very well on revolvers, sound escapes from between the cylinder and the barrel.
This is a wonderfully written book, with fine lines of humor, suspense, and tragedy. I would not, however, call it a mystery as some have. There is some mystery to the story, in that you glimpse the end in the beginning and you wonder how things get there, but it is not a "whodunnit".
PS: Very well read.
My 12yo (and rabid Bond fan) son and I listened to this on a recent roadtrip. I have to say it was a hit with both of us... a good introduction for young Bond fans who may not be ready for the "Full-Flemming". We look forward to grabbing the sequel from Audible when it is available!
FYI - Another good 'starting Bond' is Thunderball - similar to the movie, straight forward, minimal graphic content.
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