Still suffering from the effects of a violent kidnapping, Professor Kate Adams is approached by her former colleague and agent, Joe, to help solve a security crisis that threatens not only the safety United States government but that of allies throughout the world.

Kate uses her programming abilities to infiltrate The Commune, a group using their access to the dark web for illegal drug, sex, and money laundering activities. Following the clues she finds at The Commune, Kate, Joe and a third colleague, Eliot, travel across Europe to reach the “cyber mercenary” known as The Executive before more damaging information can be released.

Theme of the Book

The Internet has brought ease of communication and fast sharing of knowledge to the world. Unfortunately, it has also brought more opportunities for crime, for treason, and deception. Throughout Whistleblowers, readers are warned not to believe everything they see online and to maintain a degree of skepticism towards governments as well.

What I Liked About the Story

The story moves at a breakneck pace, leading readers from the US to Russia and back. The action never stops as Kate, Joe, and Eliot follow leads that will take them to a disturbing ending. Readers looking for a “Mission Impossible” type story will be overjoyed with this book.

Although much of the plot in Whistleblowers depends on characters’ expertise in computer programming and coding, readers who are not experts will not be inundated with technical data. The sections on the use of computer coding to hide money and the picture painted of dark web activities are fascinating even to the non-coder. Details of crypto-currency transactions are both informative and frightening.

Although the author has sacrificed character development for action, there are still some excellent characters in the novel. One who especially stands out is Condor, the autistic member of The Commune who spends his time following minute fluctuations on the stock market. The Executive, too, while not an attractive character, is a sympathetic one. Here is a man who is socially awkward yet a computer genius who becomes trapped in a situation he cannot control.

As more and more secrets are released, the in-fighting and air of suspicion among intelligence and security agencies increases, making a solution to the crisis seem almost unreachable. The inter-agency politics and turf wars seem very true to life.

What I Didn’t Like About the Story

There is very little depth to any of the characters in Whistleblowers. Readers know from the outset that Kate is suffering PTSD because of her previous experiences. Although she has panic attacks and nightmares, she is still selected as an active participant in the search for The Executive. Readers may find it hard to accept that anyone with Kate’s symptoms could be an effective agent in the field. This seems a stretch too far.

The other main characters, Joe and Eliot, also remain mysteries. We learn nothing about them aside from the fact that Joe is a psychologist and a field agent. Is the lack of information reflective of his need to remain anonymous?

From what is publicly available, Dr. Bell has a wealth of publications behind her. That came as a surprise when there are so many errors in the book. We read of Antiqua instead of Antigua; one of the characters has a hard time responding to social queues not cues; and in a cringe-worthy scene, Joe and Eliot inspect a hotel room including the overlooking baloneys. Baloneys? Really?

Authors, please do not depend on Spell Check. Spell Check can only tell you if a word is spelled correctly, not if the word itself is correct. Please, please have someone read over your manuscript before you publish. The book I received was in Word format and, hoping that the errors had been corrected, I downloaded the book from Amazon. No. The errors are still there. This should be embarrassing for an author, especially one who has published in academic journals.

Final Say

For pace and complexity of plot, Whistleblowers deserves five stars. For characterization and accuracy, it deserves three.

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