Book Review: Quantum Breach by Mark Powell

qbreachAs Mark McCabe observed the financial market meltdown in the Dealing Room, his nerves tight and on edge, he felt too old for the game. At 45, why the hell was he doing this, putting himself under such stress, and for what? It had been eight years since he left the regiment. Forex trading was a world in which he felt he did not belong. The adrenaline that fed his veins was risk of a different kind.

Then he receives a call from Brian Stowe, a former Special Forces buddy, now MI5 spook. A suspected money-laundering plot linked to a drug cartel was going on in the very bank that he works. Stowe enlists McCabe and his Singaporean assistant, the highly intelligent and very attractive Ying Lee, a 26-year-old trader, to uncover the money trails.

Sent to me by publishers  via giveaway

What to say? Topical story, using the backdrop of banking and international markets in meltdown during late 2008 used to hide massive terrorist laundering of drug money. Different edge on things by having a ex-secret service personnel on the inside to do investigations to prevent this happening.

That’s the good side. The bad side? It’s a first novel and you (ok, I) can tell. There’s nothing wrong per se about it – it has all the things that add up to make a good thriller (men with guns and dead ex girlfiends/difficulty making relationships; stunning civvies who get pulled in, get into trouble and have to be rescued; shady deals being made by faceless government mandarins; money; drugs; international travel; goodies; baddies etc etc), it’s just that something isnt quite right. Some things that kept jumping out at me: Everything took an hour to explain to someone else; The insider dealer backed everything up to a CD, which I thought you couldnt write too more than once (I would have believed it more if he’d written to an external harddrive or dongle); And here is a cut of a paragraph that I think is a good example of what I’m on about:

Kari Mohammed el-Hajj was a hard man with very strong extremist beliefs. He hated the West and all it stood for. Worse, he had a pronounced taste for torture.

There is no reasoning as to why he hates the West (cos the Americans killed his family, cos he grew up in a deprived area and was taught the West was bad by his teachers…….). Also with the torture – how did this develop, why and what does he get from it? This part of the paragraph is practically redundant and could have been demonstrated more effectively by his actions (more detail being given about the torture, perhaps using Western items, such as flags, as part of any degradation), rather than the paragraph above.

On the whole a good first novel, hope Mr Powell gets to go again.


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