Foreword Reviews—October 14, 2016
For fans of Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum, Disruption is an absolute yes.
Things that thriller novels are not: politically correct. Things that thriller novels are: fast-paced, sweat-inducing, heart-pumping. Disruption, the latest shot of adrenaline from best-selling author Chuck Barrett, gets top marks in both categories. Disruption is true to its genre and delivers a satisfying punch.
Disruption is set in the immediate future: an age when cyberterrorists network on Twitter, ditch traceable IP addresses, and take down government tech support with the click of a button. Black-hat and white-hat hackers battle for control over an underworld that trades code the way cartels swap bricks of cocaine. Jake Pendleton, a former naval-intelligence officer turned secret operative, turns up in time to penetrate the mysterious world of cybercrime.
Having saved the day in Barrett’s earlier novels Breach of Power, The Toymaker, and The Savannah Project, Jake is already warmed up and ready to roll. Assisted by his predictably lovely partner Francesca Cataranzo, Jake heads for Italy to track down a hacker named The Jew. Racial stereotypes abound: there seems to be a swarthy terrorist, a ruthless mercenary, and a pinkie-ring-wearing kingpin on every page. However, Barrett sticks with the facts, and while the plot twists may be a bit predictable, that doesn’t diminish the speed of this page-turner one bit.
Barrett’s descriptions of how programming works at the cyber level are compelling and clear, detailed enough to create tension but not overly technical—as with the Collar, a neotech torture device, “a ring of prongs capable of delivering an electric shock to the host [with] an explosive compound inside. With a master’s touch, Barrett leaves lit fuses in every chapter, building to an explosive conclusion.
Though the novel may not break new ground, it is current and extremely provocative in a post-9/11 culture where technology and tech crime are hard facts in our increasingly paranoid world. For fans of Tom Clancy and Robert Ludlum, Disruption is an absolute yes.
Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author provided free copies of his/her book to have his/her book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine,
Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.
KIRKUS REVIEWS—August 12, 2016
Covert operative Jake Pendleton returns to stop a possibly devastating cyberwarfare alliance between North Korea and Iran in Barrett’s latest series thriller.
Jake’s latest assignment as emissary for Virginia espionage firm Commonwealth Consultants sends him to Italy. He and his partner, Italian intelligence agent Francesca Catanzaro, are searching for a hacker nicknamed “The Jew,” who’d tried to warn two American executives of their company’s cybersecurity breaches. The Defense Department was a major client of both companies, and when the aforementioned executives turn up dead, government officials believe that Iranian hacking team Tarh Andishan may be responsible. A series of cybercrimes in the United States further indicates that Iran has aligned itself with North Korea. A major cyberattack called “Disruption” appears to be underway, involving the hacking of various countries’ banking systems. The scheme may involve Boris, a cyberterrorist whom Jake once failed to capture in Washington, D.C., and may also be connected to the disappearance of a Malaysian jetliner more than two years ago. Jake, meanwhile, is worried about Francesca, who seems distracted by her former partner and lover, Marco Serreti, the deputy director of Italy’s intelligence agency. Despite this, Jake and Francesca rush to locate “The Jew” before Disruption begins. This high-speed thriller moves quickly through different parts of the world and through the stories of its myriad characters. It’s all very straightforward but maintains a high level of intensity. Barrett wisely keeps the plot simple and the technical jargon at a minimum, defining terminology in the context of the narrative without interrupting the flow. Barrett adds other twists to preserve the momentum, such as when Jake’s love interest, Kyli, gets caught in a lab explosion. Although Jake and Francesca get involved in multiple chases and occasional brawls, their involvement with the actual cyberthreat is often superficial. Early on, Jake admits, “I don’t know much about hacking,” and he needs others to explain concepts, such as a digital signature. This does, however, give a relatively minor character, Commonwealth Consultants analyst George Fontaine, a chance to shine.
An adrenalized, technology-laden actioner.
FIRST ADVANCE REVIEW OF DISRUPTION!
From book reviewer Linda Quick… (5 out of 5 stars) 6/27/2016
“Loved this book! It takes a basic premise: that everyone has been hacked and is divided by those that know it and those that don’t know it. From that premise, the author has created a complex thriller spanning continents and surrounding the ultimate hack. If you enjoy thrillers, you will love this book. The author has created descriptions of the various locals that make you feel as though you’re there. He has then blended in a great deal of relevant religious history and customs and mixed with political espionage and one country’s goal to exterminate an entire nation. This is a sobering glimpse into evil. Yes, it is fiction, but the actual motivations of the antagonists are very real. This is a must read for fans of the genre. The author is on my must read authors’ list and this novel demonstrates why he is on that list.”
From book reviewer Thadeus Smith… (5 out of 5 stars) 6/30/2016
“Cover: When it comes to the mystery and suspense genre, actually, when it comes to the mass-market paperback subset of publishing in general, the covers start to blend together. You’ll notice that, after a while, all of John Grisham’s novels will start to blend together. The same is true for other big names, such as Dan Brown or James Patterson. You need something to differentiate your book from the rest, and the cover of Disruption was designed expertly. The very first thing you notice is the author’s name, followed by the title. The rest of the cover is centered in between the two, and is able to convey the main plot points while still catching the eye. The continent Europe is where much of the novel is set. The use of binary (0s and 1s) lets you know it will be a cyber-espionage story, and the use of the color red signifies an impending crisis. This is definitely one of the more well-designed covers in the genre.
Content: The plot of the book took me by surprise with its constant referencing current events, although I’m used to fantasy and YA novels set in entirely fake towns, countries, and earths. It was refreshing, then, to see things that I knew referenced in a work of fiction. (Real-world events such as North Korea hacking Sony, ISIS, and multiple other plot points that are thinly-veiled copies of events such as the Malaysia Airlines plane that disappeared).
There were multiple points in the book itself where it seemed like the author was simply trying to meet a page count. That can be forgiven, however, by the quality of the filler. For example, there is a multi-page chase scene that served only as filler, but was still quality writing, even if it did not advance the plot.
And on the topic of plot, what a plot. I have started reading cyber-warfare thrillers recently, and this book has made me wonder what took me so long. The book’s plot is quick, with twists and cliffhangers every couple chapters (There are 68 chapters). Chuck Barrett kept me on my toes the entire time. Even in the last few pages, there were multiple plot twists, requiring me to pay close attention.
Characters: The characters created by Chuck Barrett are unique, and each has their own, different motivations. The book shifts to follow a separate character every few chapters, and eventually, the many protagonists and antagonists will blend. By the end of the book I was unable to remember if the hacker The Jew and the hacker named Boris were the same person or not. The book could have definitely benefited from having fewer repeating characters.
Overall Rating: 14/15
Letter Grade: A“
From Book Reviewer Margaret Holmes—7/5/2016
“Excellent book. If more people were aware of the precarious cyber security the world would be better off. Believable plot, strong characters. The interaction between the main characters is strong, and it would e great to think that there are still individuals involved in politics who cared more for the people who elect them than their own agenda. I will read more from this well spoken author.”
“My favourite read of the year, and one of my favourite crime thrillers. Very well-written and researched. I will definitely be buying a copy when it’s released!”
—Livia Scarcella, Book Reviewer
“If you are a fan of shows like 24 or Spooks then this book will be right up your street.
Fast paced action with detailed descriptions of characters and locations that make you feel like you are there. It reminded me of the Da Vinci code in the way the characters are rushing from place to place to try to prevent Disruption. It’s also very topical considering the increasing reports of hacking in the media…”
—Jenni Lynn, Book Reviewer