Author(s): Andy McDermott
Published by Dell on 01/28/2014
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NO ONE CAN KNOW HIM. NO ONE SHOULD TRUST HIM.
AND AMERICA WON’T SURVIVE WITHOUT HIM.
Adam Gray is a cipher, a disciplined loner conditioned not to betray a single emotion. Part of an elite team spearheaded by a brilliant neuroscientist, Gray is a covert agent armed with PERSONA, a device that allows him to copy the brain patterns of the terrorists and operatives he meets in the field. For twenty-four hours he can recall their memories. He can know every detail of their plans. He can be America’s worst enemy—before he’s back to being Adam Gray again.
Now Gray and his team are racing to stop a plot to release a radioactive isotope that could kill millions. And in a nerve-racking clandestine meeting, Gray senses that his cover is cracked and that the mission—not to mention his life—may be in grave danger. But as they fight this violent conspiracy around the globe, another threat has emerged. This one has the perfect cover, the most unlikely double agent, and the most terrifying power of all. For a beautiful young scientist has discovered an unforeseen weakness in PERSONA: Adam Gray’s own past.
I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
If you were to take any of the “American spy working at the tip of the spear against a major terrorist threat”, and there are a lot of those books in the market, and add some kind of mental transference sci-fi angel, you get The Shadow Protocol. It does add an interesting twist to the genre but not much additional substance.
The book jacket compares this to Robert Ludlum’s Bourne series and there are definite parallels, although the character and the writing are both less interesting then what you find in Ludlum’s original books. The actual writing of the book, the dialogue, characterizations, etc. are all pretty much on par with the average of this genre so that isn’t a big knock on McDermott’s work. Ludlum does stand as the gold standard of the spy thriller genre so it isn’t fair to hold McDermott to that level.
The added tech/sci-fi twist of being able to copy the memory and personality of a subject into Adam Grey, the books protagonist, is a pretty interesting idea. While I have seen it before in pure sci-fi it is a nice crossing over of genres making The Shadow Protocol stand out from the pack a little bit. The actual execution of the idea could have been done better but that doesn’t keep it from helping give the story other places to go beyond “chase the terrorist, capture the terrorist”.
As is expected from a thriller novel the story is fast paced with a strong focused on the action. There are lots of good chases and fire fights, enough to keep fans of the genre engaged. There are portions that get bogged down in techno-babble as McDermott walks the reader through how the memory transfer takes place and trying to ground those elements for the reader.
You are left with several lose threads by the end of this book and it is clear McDermott has plans for this series in the future.
While the futuristic twist and fast paced action are definite assists to the book, the formulaic plot (aside from the memory transfer) and fairly one dimensional character keeps it from being great. The claim the synopsis of the book makes that this “raises the bar” of action novels really doesn’t quite hold out. More accurately it firmly secures the bar exactly where it is. If you like spy thrillers then this is the book for you, otherwise just stick with the original Bourne series.
Review by Travis Starnes