Where on earth do I start? Probably by telling you that techno-thriller is not a genre I would normally read. As intelligent as I like to think I am, subjects like quantum physics tend to short circuit my brain, and while I appreciate my modern conveniences, I’m not a technologically-minded person. That said, I have read and enjoyed several books by Thomas Locke (and Davis Bunn), so I was prepared to take a chance on this one. Imagine my surprise when I found myself hooked by the first book in this series (Trial Run) from the very first page! (And I do recommend reading the series in order: Double Edge (prequel), Trial Run, then Flash Point, because you will have a much better foundation from which to grasp what’s going on this novel).
The premise behind this series is that Dr. Gabriella Speciale, an experimental psychologist, has spent several years researching the use of harmonic frequencies to simulate particular brain-wave patterns for meditative or therapeutic effect. With the help of neuroscientist, Dr. Brett Riffkind, the research yielded results far beyond their expectations by inducing controlled out-of-body experiences. Their experimentation with this out-of-body experience is the basis for Trial Run.
Flash Point moves the focus away from Gabriella’s work and on to three characters who will eventually encounter the work of Dr. Bernard Bishop. He has developed a ‘neural net’ (a cross between a helmet and a flexible webbing with electrodes fitted in order to stimulate the brain) which shows an amazing ability to stimulate a variety of neurochemicals important in the treatment of conditions such as insomnia, anxiety, mental disorders, motor-neuron ailments, epilepsy, and even migraines, but his research was abruptly cancelled when five of his patients died, leaving him disgraced and bankrupt.
The story opens by introducing Lena Fennan, a new character to the series. She is a young financial analyst with no knowledge of any of this research at the beginning of the novel. All she knows is that she has been receiving advice via some sort of weird telepathic communication about a series of high risk business and financial transactions that end up netting her a one thousand percent profit in just two weeks. However, all of this is but a prelude to the main event: connecting with Dr. Brett Riffkind and providing the means of resurrecting Dr. Bishop’s research.
Brett Riffkind plays a more active role in this novel than he did in Trial Run. He suspects that Dr. Bishop’s neural net was not responsible for the deaths of those five patients, but that they were killed because the neural net induced in them the same controlled out-of-body experience that he and Gabriella discovered. He believes someone ordered their deaths in order to discredit and then steal Dr. Bishop’s work so it could be further developed in secrecy for their own purposes.
Reese Clawson is a trained security and intelligence operative who was given orders not only to take out Gabriella and her research team, but to secure the research and discover whether it can be used in espionage. Failing to do so landed her in prison at the end of Trial Run, but she has been given a final chance at securing her freedom: using Dr. Bishop’s neural nets to train ‘voyagers’; operatives who can enter a controlled out-of-body state to access and retrieve specific intelligence.
When Reese’s superiors learn that Dr. Bishop has suddenly vanished, her mission changes; her voyagers must locate Dr. Bishop and then eliminate him and everyone working with him, including Charlie Hazard. But Reese knows that her success will also be her undoing; because once her team proves they are successful, she becomes a liability her superiors will be quick to neutralize.
As you can see, there is nothing simple about this plot! I found it required a higher level of intellectual engagement than most thrillers I’ve read, but I was also astounded by how plausible Locke made all of this seem. While he keeps explanations to a minimum, there are times when explaining the science behind these out-of-body experiences is an organic part of the scene, and my mind boggled at the research and knowledge that must have gone into devising this plot.
I will say, however, that I didn’t quite connect with these characters as much as I did with the ones in Trial Run. I think I felt a little lost at the beginning of the novel, because Lena was an unknown and, for a while, I wasn’t really sure where things were heading or how Lena and Reese’s stories were connected. I also found that I spent a greater amount of energy than I normally would just following the plot, which may have detracted from my ability to simply live the characters’ stories.
In any case, the writing was the same strong, detailed writing I have come to expect from Thomas Locke, and the plot is tense and pretty mind-blowing! The ending of the book left a few questions unanswered, and hinted at a third book to follow, and I find myself hoping that is the case. If nothing else, there is definitely a show-down between Reese and Charlie Hazard still in the offing!
I received a complimentary copy of this novel from the author in exchange for my honest review.
- Paperback: 370 pages
- Publisher: Revell (2 August 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0800724356
- ISBN-13: 978-0800724351
- Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.3 x 21.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 90.7 g
- Customer Reviews: 1 customer review