Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Havoc by Steven F. Freeman

Author:  Steven F. Freeman
Publisher:  Createspace
Pages: 370
Release Date: July 24th, 2014
Source: Received from the author in exchange for
an honest review

When Cryptologist Alton Blackwell takes his girlfriend, FBI Agent Mallory Wilson, on a surprise trip to Italy, the couple expects the vacation of a lifetime, but their pleasure is short-lived. Intent on selling Vidulum Inc.’s proprietary technology to the highest bidder, a rogue employee of the high-tech company arranges a clandestine meeting at one of Rome’s most famous tourist attractions. Rather than collecting a huge payday, however, the company turncoat encounters a lethal surprise. When Alton and Mallory rush to assist the dying scientist, they find themselves pulled into the subsequent murder investigation.

Foreign and domestic agents, corporate spies, intellectual-property thieves, and shadowy underworld figures race to acquire the technical files stored on the dead employee’s missing cellphone and reap the billions of dollars and technological superiority now at stake. 

Despite their efforts to leave the tragedy behind and continue their vacation, Alton and Mallory soon learn their own lives are in danger. They are left with no choice but to join forces with the Roman police in an effort to crack the case. While diving into the investigation, the discovery of another man in Mallory’s past disrupts Alton’s plan to move his relationship with her to a new level. 

As they encounter unexpected twists at a breakneck pace, Alton and Mallory must summon all their intellectual powers to reveal the truth behind the Vidulum employee’s death and track down the missing technological plans before a life-threatening end game can be set in motion. 

Havoc is yet another book by author Steven F. Freeman; I reviewed the first book in The Blackwell Files, Nefarious, last year, and got the chance to pick up one of the next installments. One thing I should just note up front, though, is this is book 4 in the series. One thing that was nice was it was extremely easy to pick up without reading 2 and 3, and feeling like I was missing something. Same characters, but certainly a new story. 

We have some of the same writing techniques used in this work as with the previous novel I reviewed (multiple POVs of characters, adventure, a slowly unraveling plot), but one thing that was missing was the military elements. We went from a war story, into a more adventure/who-done-it mystery.  I actually really enjoyed the transition. The adventure gives a nice plot/pacing to keep up with, and at this point in the story Malory and Alton's relationship feels much more developed. Because there are so many view points happening at once, it does take a little time to get into, but from there, it's a fun and easy read. It would be a good novel to pop some popcorn and plot down with to read through. 

While there isn't a lot plot wise that makes this book unique to me (I've unfortunately seen too many sequels that use 'put them in a foreign country!' as the leading story hook), I think the way Freeman handles the different P.O.V. adds to Havoc. Because we see things from the bad guys view as well as the good guys, it helps add the sense of suspense. You're watching the gunfight from both sides, which is always a favorite approach for me. The plot itself felt really well thought out, even if the chase through Italy thing felt overdone. The stolen files had a good background, and the technology felt advanced, yet believable. So good marks there. 

All in all, I'd consider this a good read. Freeman is a good writer who sets a nice pace through the story, and it's easy to miss bedtime once you get into the story. 

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