3 out of 4 stars
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Russia's Biggest Hack by James E. Doucette is a fictional political thriller based on real events. In the early morning of Tuesday, July 6, 1999, Gordon Fuqua, president of Global Communications, dies in a light plane crash when his pilot, Nate, collapses against the stick, forcing the plane into a steep dive into a field near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border. Meanwhile, Ilya Babin, Russian cultural attaché to the United Nations, is blackmailing Alfred Simms, Global's chairman of the board. Babin has video footage of Simms and a beautiful Russian interpreter, Alena, together in his hotel room during an earlier stay in Moscow, footage which might end his marriage. The Russians want exclusive access to Global Communications' codes for US power grids and telecommunications.
Global Communications is in the process of expanding outside of the United States. Over the previous two years, they developed a communications system in Belgium and won a contract from the Mexican government to provide services to Mexico City. The board of directors puts John Ward in charge temporarily until they can appoint a new president. Many directors believe John should be offered the job permanently. Then another member of the company dies, this time in a hit-and-run accident...
Doucette's writing was neat and concise, indicating a high standard of editing. I did find more than ten errors, but most were minor, usually missing punctuation. The story seemed complicated at the beginning, with several employees of Global Communication referenced, but the straightforward writing style made this a little easier. The diabolical machinations of Russian intelligence operatives and government officials were intriguing. The dialogue was simple and realistic, and the scenes adhered to the "show, don't tell" rule, with plenty of dialogue to break up the descriptive passages.
Russia's Biggest Hack was only a short novella, but I enjoyed the straightforward construction of the story. Doucette's descriptive brevity advanced the plot quickly. For example:
"The smell of seasoned turkey filled the house as they entered after attending Mass at Saint John's Church. The priest's homily spoke of Paul's instruction to the church of Corinth—true love is unconditional.
'Smells great. When do we eat?' asked John."
After setting the scene with a brief outline of preceding events, Doucette launched straight into the dinner scene. I found the short chapters and concise approach to description added pace and kept me reading.
The only real negative for me - aside from taking time to acclimatise to the cast of characters - was the minor errors in the text. Due to these errors, I rate Russia's Biggest Hack 3 out of 4 stars. The story was entertaining and the writing slick. I would recommend it to those with an interest in political intrigue and espionage. It contained no graphic violence or sex to deter those who don't appreciate such scenes.
Russia's Biggest Hack
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