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Reviews and Recommendations by Mel Odom, Professional Writer

THE SHADOW PROTOCOL by Andy McDermott

Andy McDermott The Shadow Protocol

Andy McDermott exploded onto the international thriller scene with his first novel The Hunt for Atlantis. Since then he’s added several books to the series about American archeologist Nina Wilde and ex-SAS soldier Eddie Chase. He’s even gotten them married and successfully continued their adventures.

McDermott is a master of the over-the-top thriller in the vein of Clive Cussler, James Rollins, and Matthew Reilly. His heroes and plot are globetrotters with lots of twists and turns fueled by high-octane explosions.

I’m not sure if The Shadow Protocol is meant to be an ongoing series or not. It appears to have first been published over in England as a hardcover (The Persona Protocol), then brought to the US as a paperback release. McDermott started out as a paperback original in the US, and he continues to be released as such here in the US, but I expect him to hit hardcover status any day now.

If Adam Gray is supposed to be a series character, he’s going to need more work. Part of the plot depends on him being a cipher, a man the government can graft new personalities onto again and again, He even calls himself a cyborg in the novel. He’s not really a cyborg because other than the brain alterations (which are considerable), Adam is in no way boosted to superhuman levels.

The character reminded me somewhat of Jared from the old Pretender series. Like Jarod, Adam can basically be anyone whose personality he has been overlaid with. The science involved in the process is murky and not really there to convince a reader this type of thing can actually be done. It’s more a Mcguffin for the novel to spin around.

As a result of having an incomplete hero, the readers know they’re supposed to root for Adam, but they don’t really know him, don’t know what he wants (because much of the time Adam really doesn’t want anything), and don’t know who the real villains are because there are a baker’s dozen of them found in the pages.

Eventually that all gets sorted out, but not having that emotional connection with the character puts the story at a distance for a while.

Still, there are pages and pages of chases and explosions and gun battles. The book reads like a great action film and McDermott’s writing is smooth enough to just pull you along. At 600 pages, there’s a lot of heft to the book, so settle in and enjoy it. Fans of his work will prefer the Wilde/Chase novels, but this one is fun enough. If it does turn into a series, the next book will definitely have more emotional resonance because all the mysteries have been removed.

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