Tag Archives: political-thriller

Quill of the Dove by Ian Thomas Shaw

I am going to preface this review by mentioning that political thrillers are not one of my favourite fiction genres. Back in the days of the Cold War, it was easy to keep track of the adversaries. The Middle East? That’s another kettle of fish, as the saying goes. I’ve never truly understood it all, and after reading Ian Thomas Shaw’s Quill of the Dove (2019, MiroLand, an imprint of Guernica Editions), I’m afraid I’m no further ahead, although Mr. Shaw admirably seeks to educate the reader on all sides of the ongoing conflict. There are so many names and splinter groups, Muslim and Christian, and all the poor citizens caught in between them. My head was spinning as I attempted to get through to the elemental story. I am happy to say that persistence pays off, and I was rewarded with an engaging read.

The story itself is told from two different time periods: mid-1970s into the early 80s and later, in 2007. The main protagonist is Marc Taragon, a journalist with a knack for being at or near the front lines of any conflict and getting out safely to tell the story to the world. Marc has many friends and contacts to aid him in being at the forefront of a fluid situation. He is on friendly enough terms with all sides that he and two friends hammer out a peace initiative called Arkassa. The three are heavily involved in trying to broker a peace settlement that would have the support of the major players; they, through Marc, just have to sell it to those in power and the governments they represent.

Along with the business of trying to get all sides together and avoid getting killed by any number of extremists opposed to any type of peace, there are several romantic storylines, the main one being that of Marc and Hoda ‘Akkawi, a Muslim Palestinian woman. Then, a couple of decades later, Marie, a young Canadian journalist, has reason to think that Marc may be her father based on an old picture she has. She was adopted at a young age. But who is her mother? Marie is on a quest to find out the truth from Marc except she soon finds herself in the thick of things too.

“Quill of the Dove brims with heartbreak and love for a troubled region. Shaw’s characters are memorable and his sense of place, steeped in personal experience, is powerful; the scent of orange and olive groves lingers long after the last page is turned.”

Ursula Pflug, author of Down From

Ms. Pflug eloquently captures my thoughts after reading Quill of the Dove; the characters certainly are memorable and it’s obvious that Mr. Shaw has first-hand experience of the places of which he writes about. I just wish I understood all of the politics and the reasons for the wars in the first place, although, as I mentioned previously, you don’t really need to fully understand it all to be pleased by reading Quill of the Dove. If you’re in the market for a good literary political thriller, do not overlook Quill of the Dove.

Quill of the Dove by Ian Thomas Shaw
MiroLand Publishers (a Guernica Imprint)

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This article has been Digiproved © 2018 James FisherSome Rights Reserved  

Remote Access by Barry Finlay

A political thriller penned in “cozy” mode (no profanity, no sex scenes) by retired Government of Canada employee (and award-winning author) Barry Finlay is actually #3 in the Marcie Kane series of thrillers. While I have not read the previous two installments, I found that not knowing her backstory in no way hampered my enjoyment of this book. The action begins almost immediately and the implications are profound: Annie Logan, the wife of the President’s Cheif of Staff has been hacked by a professional hired by a Chinese businessman and a government official (unbeknownst to each other) to help defeat a Presidental order to put in force steep tariffs on imported Chinese goods. The President is modelled after Mr. Trump and does what he wants, ignoring his advisors. Marcie (and her new fiancee Nathan Harris, an FBI consultant) get involved, and as they try and discover who the hacker is, things begin to spiral out of control on both sides of the planet, until the showdown occurs at a presidential rally in Florida.

Author Barry Finlay

What is quite interesting in the story is how the hacker gains access to an average person’s computer posing as a “friend” on Facebook. He sends her an animated GIF to click on, then a ZIP file with a hidden executable that allows him full access to her PC, including her passwords, banking information and so on. She watches horrified as the mouse cursor moves on its own, opening a word processing document and displaying messages to her. Basically, like blackmail. It is a good reminder to check security settings, and don’t accept friend requests from people you don’t know, and likewise clicking on emails with attachments from people you don’t know.

The most interesting character development in Remote Access is that of Yang Lee, the accomplished hacker. While undoubtedly smart, he lets pride cloud his judgment which eventually leads him to failure. His employers are disappointed that he cannot get results as swiftly as he promised.

I was curious as to why Mr. Finlay chose to use a female as his main character. He told me:

“I decided to go initially with a female protagonist because I like reading novels with strong, yet vulnerable female leads. One of my main goals in writing fiction is to write about characters and the situation they find themselves as realistically as possible. A strong female character with a good sense of humour and maybe a reckless side allowed me to do that. I think the latter characteristic is more evident in A Perilous Question. Marcie is not Superwoman. She has learned to be strong and independent, but she makes mistakes as anyone does and that helps to move the stories forward and I hope adds interest and realism for the reader. I’ve borrowed many of Marcie’s characteristics from strong, independent women I’ve met and worked with along the way.”

A perfect summer read, Remote Access is well-written with plenty of twists and turns guaranteed to hold your attention to the end of the book.

“REMOTE ACCESS is a well-written, well-conceived, gripping thriller, well worth the read. Mr. Finlay has a background in government and finance and knows this world intricately. He has supplemented his experience with substantial research into international politics and the cyber world, and takes us on an exciting adventure into a very possible and real political trauma.”Geza Tatrallay for Ottawa Review of Books

Remote Access by Barry Finlay
Keep On Climbing Publishing

Remote Access is available in both paperback and ebook format. If you choose to purchase this book through Amazon using the link below I will receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

This article has been Digiproved © 2018 James Fisher
Acknowledgements: Barry Findlay

Some Rights Reserved  

Original content here is published under these license terms:
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