Bryce Allen‘s The Spartak Trigger will take some getting used to. I went from liking it, to hating it, to smoking a cigar and enjoying it. The main reason I got into hating it is I expected the standard thriller involving the protagonist’s race against time to save the world, make hot steaming sweet love to a variety of beautiful women, and either quip cheesy lines or come off as overly earnest – and maybe have a sideline in carving boats by hand from tree trunks.
Not that I love the above, but it’s the sort of thing you get a lot from thrillers. Instead, I couldn’t help seeing the protagonist, Bishop, in James Coburn’s skin. The novel is at heart a mighty piss-take on the genre. Sexist, racist, amoral, homophobic, blundering his way through the whole thing like he doesn’t give a rat’s arse about anything.
The main man corrupts company employees for a living, asking them to infect their company with computer viruses. He gets framed for murder, then gets caught up in a dangerous tech war. None of that really matters. His view about life is “whatever”, letting it all slide with a dismissive sneer. His only care is for the daughter he barely sees. His constant companion is the novel’s narrator. Only Bishop converses with the narrator, and it’s all cynical. You can imagine the face he pulls when the narrator gets all purple in his prose, and even notes that he’s run out if plot coupons towards the end. They’re talk about ridiculous plot progressions when Bishop does something amazing without any foreshadowing, or because he’s learnt the skill through his operators manipulating a chip in his head.
This protagonist/narrator conversation is where I lost a lot of patience … initially. But if you take it as a modern version of the 60s spy spoof you’ll laugh quite a bit, or at least Roger Moore an eyebrow in amusement.
Overall, if you go in knowing what you’re going to get, you’ll really enjoy this. If you don’t, you’ll grow to enjoy it. If you like all your thrillers serious, even if it’s all ridiculous, you could get mightily annoyed.
A lot of fun.