Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Book Review: The Armageddon Conspiracy by John Thompson

Review copy from author's publicist
The Armageddon Conspiracy
by John Thomspon
4 Stars


Fast-rising money manager Brent Lucas has no idea that the head of his new firm is a Christian fanatic or that his multi-million dollar job is a set-up until a billion dollars disappears from a client's account--and until he ends up as the only suspect. Determined to clear himself, he goes to his client's home where he finds only corpses. Narrowly escaping, Lucas runs from both the FBI and his would-be killers.

Fueled by memories of his brother's tragic death in the Trade Center and aided by his ex-fiancée, a beautiful cop assigned to the Project Seahawk anti-terrorism taskforce, Lucas begins to unravel a flawlessly planned conspiracy. He discovers his politically unassailable boss has masterminded a plot aimed at bringing about Armageddon-with stolen missiles, depleted nuclear fuel and a band of Muslim terrorists intent on killing the President. As the FBI closes in, Lucas launches his own desperate attempt to stop the madness before it is too late.


Finding it difficult to get a job after he blew the whistle on his last firm for insider trading, Brent Lucas finally accepts an undercover job on behalf of the justice department to investigate Genesis Advisers, who are also under suspicion of the same thing. What Bent discovers however, is something he hadn't expected. His new boss, Prescott Biddle is a fanatical Christian, who says he has a direct line to God and that's how he knows what the market will do. It's strange, all right, but not illegal, so Lucas wonders what he's really doing here and he's barely at the firm a month before everything comes to a head and Lucas is on the run, framed for murder and embezzlement and desperately trying to get anyone to believe him.

This is a deftly plotted, well-executed thriller. I enjoyed most of it, but I felt disappointed that we as readers find out a lot about the 'bad guys', who they are, what they are willing to do and their motivations a long while before Lucas did. It would have worked so much better if the reader found out things at the same time as Lucas did, it would have added an extra layer of tension. So instead of just Lucas wondering who he can trust, the reader is unsure as well. It lets the story down somewhat that the reader gets to know so much before the main protagonist and diminishes some of the tension.

What makes this stand out from a lot of thrillers is the characterisation. Brent Lucas is just a normal man, he's not some ex elite special forces chap who can kill a man barehanded with his eyes closed. He's just an ordinary guy caught up in extraordinary circumstances and we really get to know Lucas as a character here: from his disappointment with his break-up with Maggie, to his grief over losing his family. After his father's death his mother killed herself by setting fire to the house with Lucas and his brother in it. His brother became a fireman and died during 9/11 and parts of the book are Lucas talking with his heroic dead brother, which I found rather poignant.

There are various point of view throughout the book, from Maggie to Biddle and Abu Sayeed, the mastermind behind the importation of the missiles in a bid to assassinate the president and each has their own part to play in the narrative. None of the characters come across as two-dimensional, they are all fully realised with all of their own baggage, which makes them stand out more.

A good read if you enjoy fast-paced thrillers.

Reviewed by Annette Gisby

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