When an ominous, digitally encrypted telephone call is intercepted by the NSA's spy satellites high over Switzerland, FBI Special Agent Sarah Cahill - irreverent, outspoken, a brilliant counterterrorism expert, a divorced mother of an eight-year-old boy - is urgently summoned to New York to investigate an imminent terrorist attack on lower Manhattan. Her investigation immediately turns into the desperate pursuit of a highly sophisticated and charismatic terrorist operative, known only by the code name Zero.
Sarah must direct an intensive, absolutely secret manhunt for an exceptionally dangerous man whose identity she doesn't know - even though he knows her intimately. Suddenly, Sarah and her young son are plunged headlong into a terrifying labyrinth of intrigue, an elaborate game of cat and mouse that imperils their lives, forcing Sarah to race to uncover a diabolically clever terrorist conspiracy... before the zero hour.
The audio includes an excerpt from Vanished, the first Nick Heller novel.
©1996 Joseph Finder (P)2010 Macmillan Audio
This is or was a good story by Joseph Finder. It takes place in New York after the first World Trade Center bombing. So a lot of the discussion of the terrorist environment is very dated. It is fairly predictable but deep character stories and discussion of the technology then is good. Worked for spending time in the car.
Yet again Joe Finder delivers another great story with plenty of twist and turns keeping you going from page one straight through to the very end of the story. I would call this a real page turner (if it makes sense to say that about an audio book). The narration really complimented the story very well. Would I recommend this, yes absolutely. In my opinion Joe Finder is one of the best thriller writers at the moment.
No fun watching good guys make mistakes and being stupid. Too much lecturing about technical subjects.
This is a weak imitation of The Day of the Jackal. I loved Jackal. I did not enjoy Zero. Similarities: Someone hires the best of the best to do a job. In Jackal it’s kill the French President. In Zero it’s hack a bank and plant a bomb in NY City. In both books authorities learn something is going to happen but don’t know who will do it. In both books the authorities get closer and closer with a lot of neat clues. In both books the hired guy has an inside source and other means to learn what the authorities learn and are doing.
What I liked in Zero:
A happy ending.
What I did not like in Zero:
The good guys do stupid things which gives information to Baumann, the hired guy/terrorist. When the Jackal got information I was impressed, but when Baumann got info I was depressed. I was frustrated and let down at how easily the good guys were outsmarted.
Examples: Baumann calls the FBI, and asks a secretary where an FBI agent lives. She tells him! Maybe a temporary employee in a business might give out something like that, but not the FBI! Baumann calls a passport agency clerk (in South Africa) asking who has been asking for passport information about Baumann. She tells him. Ok maybe South Africa is different from the U.S. but that seemed too convenient. Baumann calls a car dealer pretending to be someone else and asks for the key code for that person’s car. The car dealer person gives this over the phone without any I.D. The NSA calls an FBI agent to provide info about the terrorist. The NSA makes sure the line is secure before he talks. That was good. But then the agent calls another agent’s home (which is being tapped) and leaves all those details on an answering machine. Stupid. Two FBI agents know they are after a dangerous killer/terrorist. They get killed because they are alone and too trusting when interacting with him. Baumann is crouched down behind one agent’s car. Baumann says he’s looking for a contac lense, so the agent helps him look?
CAUTION BIGGER SPOILER:
In Jackal, stupid bureaucrat Raoul is part of the group searching for the Jackal. They have daily update meetings. Every night he tells his mistress what they’ve learned. She’s a spy for the Jackal. Raoul is one of those guys the reader hates. So that worked. But in Zero, Baumann sleeps with Carol the lead FBI investigator. She’s the main good guy. She’s supposed to be smart. So it was no fun seeing her date the terrorist without being curious or investigating him, and then seeing all the ways he got information from her. He had keys to her home, taped her phone calls, used a pencil to see message imprints on her notepad, etc. It just felt bad.
Way too much technical history and details about how things work. It was like a classroom. Subjects included: telephone encryption, how to get a message from a tape that has been erased, ways to tap a phone line, bomb timers, banking system network details, FDIC rating system mechanics, types of fingerprints and databases, the history of and how jpeg pictures worked.
Jeff Gurner was ok for most of the book, but two things bothered me. I kept hearing his breaths – distracting. He used a weird Ronald-Reagan-type voice for some characters (Christine Vigiani, Perry Taylor).
Genre: suspense thriller.
I have listened to several Joseph Finder books and The Zero Hour is my new favorite. It was intense and exciting. A real thriller!!!
Joseph Finder's books can be counted on to expand the knowledge of the reader/listener. Obviously he does a great deal of research into whatever area of expertise each novel involves. This book deals with the digital world.
I enjoy his works because I know, when I have finished, I'll have a better knowledge of the world in which he tells the story. Some of the detail does become excessive, however.
He shapes his characters well enough for them to take on a three dimensional quality in the listener's mind. And the story is interesting and well written. Bringing the eight year old boy into a central position, rather than a peripheral character, certainly adds depth to the story.
Gypsy in a Box
Well written and very intriguing.
There were a few predictable areas. When she first met Brian, it's obvious he was the terrorist.
Nothing stands out.
If she were such a great agent, why in the world did she not check out the "helpful stranger in the strange city?" Very disappointed in that.
Love reading, and now listening to books being read. I like poetry and classic literature and also detective fiction and some thrillers.
I found this book offensive, because of the blasphemy ,and poorly written. It was hard to believe that Joseph finder had put his name to it!
"Appalling, don't waste your money."
The narrators' attempt at an Afrikaans accent was painful, but combine that with a plot that just wasn't credible or detailed, left me desperate to reach the end in the vain hope that it would get better, it didn't.
I accept that it was written before the 'twin towers' disaster and the level of knowledge in how international terrorism and counter-terrorism practices are put in place has increased significantly among the general population. But even that minor point in this Audibles' favour does not affect the overall feeling of woeful inadequacy compared to a Frederick Forsyth for example.
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