3 out of 4 stars
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The Markov Encryption by David N Robinson features former Marine Ben Lewis, who is the subject of two other books in Robinson's thrilling series. The story takes place in London, where Ben is meeting a friend at a local cafe for a game of chess. While waiting, Ben is ambushed by an old friend and fellow Marine Keiran Doherty. Ben is shocked by the reappearance of Keiran because according to reports, everyone thought he died a year ago. Keiran has been off the grid with a single purpose: stealing an encryption key that will lead to one of the world's greatest computer hacks by revealing Russia's top state secrets. Keiran knows he was only one of the players involved in trying to get their hands on this key and that he won't be able to outsmart his killers for much longer. He needs Ben's help.
Ben isn't interested in becoming involved in Keiran's plan, until Keiran threatens him by showing him a video of his former girlfriend, Holly, who has been kidnapped and only has days to live. Ben has no choice but to follow Keiran's set of clues that will lead him to the encryption key. Keiran has just enough time to explain all of this before he is killed in front of Ben in broad daylight. Now it's Ben's turn to begin living on borrowed time as he evades assassins at every turn to try to find the key and save Holly.
The Markov Encryption is your classic spy thriller that opens with an action-packed scene in the first few pages and doesn't relent the entire way through the book. I really enjoyed the fighting scenes, of which there were plenty, because they were so thoroughly written that it was easy to picture them playing out in real life. Though this is the third book in the Ben Lewis series, I felt like any background information I needed to know what sufficiently explained and I never felt like I was missing out on anything by not having read the first two books.
I found all of the characters to be well-written and believable, with the exception at times of Ben. Being that he is a former special forces Marine and this isn't the first case he's found himself in where people are tracking him and trying to kill him, I found him to be too trusting. He seemed to have no problem introducing himself to strangers and immediately telling them his business. I didn't find this to be a realistic characteristic of someone who is trying to fly under the radar. But other than this minor annoyance, I thought all of the characters and their motivations were easy to follow and logical.
Though there was a lot of political maneuvering with several countries being involved in hunting down this encryption key, it was easy to keep them straight and not get confused about who was doing what. If anything, it got a little repetitive when agents were filling in their boss on things that had just happened. It felt unnecessary to read about characters giving a summary of the scene that I had only just read without presenting any new information.
I did find a few minor errors sprinkled through the story, but nothing that detracted from my reading. Overall, I enjoyed this action-packed adventure and would recommend it to those who enjoy James Bond novels. Due to the issues I already mentioned above, it wasn't a perfect read for me but it was highly enjoyable. Therefore I give this book 3 out of 4 stars.
The Markov Encryption
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