3 out of 4 stars
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The Artemis File, written by Adam Loxley, opens with George Wiggins enjoying a Thursday night at a local bar. Suddenly, a female stranger breaks this peace. After spending the night conversing and drinking with her, George ends up in bed with her. Normally, this would be fine, but there’s one problem: George is married. He finds himself sucked into a plot out of a spy novel when a strange man blackmails him into creating a mysterious crossword. Switching to a seemingly unrelated plot, Craven is a British spy employed by Vector, a secret agency. He has been tasked with tracking down Damien Ross, an ex-American spy. Ross has reappeared after years of dormancy and was spotted conducting a brush-pass. It’s considered an urgent matter to find him. How does this reemerged spy fit in with the mysterious crossword? What secrets are being kept hidden by the governments of the world? All these questions and more are answered in The Artemis File.
Despite having numerous characters and their respective side plots to follow, I never found myself overwhelmed. I enjoyed watching the story unfold and the characters slowly colliding paths. Loxley does an excellent job of developing each of his characters and giving them a distinct personality. My favorite character was George; he tried to redeem himself after his unfortunate one-night stand and surprised me with his quick-wittedness. I also tend to have a soft spot for nerdy characters like him. As an American, I am not well-versed in the intricacies of British society. Loxley presents London in a way that even an American like me can easily visualize the setting and follow the plot. I also found the mystery surrounding Ross to be intriguing. I wanted to see how he fit into the puzzle with the enigmatic crossword.
At a lengthy 827 pages, The Artemis File is quite a book to undertake. I was engaged throughout the novel due to the exciting plot, but some readers may find the length to be taxing. Additionally, there were off-color statements about minorities said by some of the characters. While the intention may not have been to offend, their inclusion broke me from my immersion in the novel. The most egregious was when Craven said “[he] couldn’t tell one black kid from another.” Such a comment was not necessary, especially coming from a main character that we are supposed to be rooting for.
The Artemis File contained errors. While they weren’t numerous, there were enough to indicate that the book needs to undergo another round of editing. The most common mistake I noted dealt with the misuse of “it’s” instead of “its.” I also noticed that common nouns were capitalized throughout the novel. This could be a style difference between American and British English, but I found myself thrown at times because of this.
I rate The Artemis File 3 out of 4 stars. The book had me on the edge of my seat trying to figure out why Ross had suddenly reappeared and how the numerous side plots connected. However, the editing issues and problematic statements made by some of the characters prevent me from giving it a higher rating. Fans of action-packed novels and spy stories would definitely enjoy this book. More sensitive readers may be disconcerted by the depictions of violence and strong language that are present.
The Artemis File
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