Australian thriller-writer Nathan Farrugia packs a punch with his techno-thriller novel The Chimera Vector, the first in a series featuring a rogue black op with a past that comes back to smack her down.
The Chimera Vector
Published by: Momentum Books (Pan Macmillan)
Publication Date: May 2012
Number of Pages: 353 print pages
Video Trailer: The Chimera Vector
Synopsis: When an elite operative’s programming goes haywire, the truth behind her past spins her future course out of control.
The novel crosses genres as a sci-fi/espionage/techno-thriller with a socio-political message. So, be prepared to have your mind blown. Mine was, and I loved every minute of it.
The story opens thick with action, so the reader is plunged right into the deep end. The pace continues, with enough time to come up for air and learn some background on the main characters. The protagonist, Sofia, a smart bad-ass with brains and brawn, ala Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and ala Bridget Fonda in Point of No Return, is well-written and rings true throughout the story. Her fellow team of trained assassins, ala Bourne Identity, is sufficient. The author dabbles in their pasts, but their development left me wanting to know more. (Perhaps something to look forward to as the series continues?)
The antagonist, Sofia’s “creator” and employer, The Fifth Column, is an extremely powerful organization that rises above other terrorist villains–a villain without borders, that wreaks havoc and tension in the world for its own gains by manipulating other governments, terrorist organizations, and world leaders like pawns in a chess game of war and money. The Fifth Column is led by an amped-up psychopath, ala Hitler or Bin Laden, but with grander vision and better engineered DNA.
The overarching premise is superb, but since the reader learns of it via twists and turns, I’d rather not state it outright. Honestly, when the reader is confronted with the blunt realization of the Fifth Column’s true objective, as well as the conundrum in which Sofia and her rogue team find themselves in dealing with the objective, the whole book is taken to another level. It moves beyond the Matt Reilly-esque action-thriller into a Crichton-esque world-view novel. Or perhaps akin to Orwell’s 1984, where the puppet-strings future is NOW.
The author does a great job of showcasing his military background in the weaponry and tactics he employs, and the “warrior soldier” he describes is very Joe Finder-esque in its execution. For me, however, about half-way through the book, some of the jargon becomes a bit tedious, especially when I really want to concentrate on what the character feels about the situation at hand, as opposed to how he or she reacts to it with another fight scene.
I enjoyed the varied twists and turns in the plot, but about three-quarters of the way through the book, I felt as if the story might teeter on the brink of losing some of its credibility with a few too many plot twists. However, as the story left me feeling satisfied with the resolution, I got past it, because the thrill of the ride was worth it. The climax was explosive and gratifying, and I finished the book with a strong urge to read more about these characters. I’m thrilled to report that there is a sequel, entitled The Seraphim Sequence. Also, the author is hard at work on the third in the series.
I’d recommend this novel to thriller readers looking for non-stop action sequences, involving hard-core operatives with heart and brains who oppose amped-up psychopaths with bad-ass agendas, and a novel rich with a premise that’s shocking and thought-provoking.
My Rating: 4 out of 5 FAVA beans.
Nathan Farrugia served in the Australian Army in infantry and reconnaissance, and studied film, television and professional writing. He worked as a post-production video editor, colorist and copywriter, where he earned the nickname Fagoogoo because no one could pronounce Farrugia.
Nathan lives in Melbourne, Australia. In his spare time he discovers hidden places around the world with urban explorers, practices lock picking and escaping from plasticuffs and straitjackets (you never know when that will come in handy, right?) and studies Systema, a little-known martial art and closely guarded secret of Russian special forces. Nathan has trained under USMC, SEAL team and Spetsnaz instructors, the Chiricahua Apache scouts and Australian Aboriginals. He also drinks tea.
Nathan blogs at http://nathanmfarrugia.com/blog/. You can also find him at http://nathanmfarrugia.com/ or at https://www.facebook.com/nathanmfarrugia or at https://twitter.com/nathanmfarrugia.