The Toymaker — Chuck Barrett:
I”m not big on spy thrillers, because there are only so many ways to threaten the very fabric of our civilization, and have it be believable.  Change the good guys, the bad guys, the weapons, it’s all about the chase in the end.

This novel has a solid premise with the creator of ultra high tech spy-geek toys taking a young operative under his wing and chasing the bad guys.  The subplots are sound and developed adequately, although they could have a bit more flesh on them to help tie the ending together a little more smoothly.

There are actually two protagonists, and that is one of the distractions of the book. The two men are supposedly CIA black ops, if that’s what you would want to call them. My preferred term would be rank amateurs.  If this were Been Stiller and Owen Wilson it could be comic relief.  It’s more like Jason Statham and Colin Firth playing “Enh! He touched me!” during a black op in heavily infested al-Qaeda territory.

It took some time to warm up to the the characters because of the juvenile nonsense.  Having been separated for several weeks (days? The timeline wasn’t really clear. In some ways it felt like 36 hours worth of events were stuffedinto one day for several of the characters.) the two protagonists come together again for a mission, and resume right where they left off with the whole did not/did too interactions.

The Toymaker

Later in the book, I realized that the author was actually trying to establish that one of these operatives had absolutely no business in the CIA and the other guy was a strict company man.  The bickering was too much to overcome.  Any time an Op leader says, “If you two don’t shut up, I’ll shoot you myself,” there’s something with the plot development.

There are plenty of cool gadgets, most of them are either technically feasible and probably available to the military market, or are certainly theoretically viable and coming in the near future.The action and plot details are good, they could have been developed a little more in detail to give a more solid feeling to the story, and possibly escape the distractions presented by the two major players.

I’d recommend the book for the casual spy thriller reader, and the hard core reader who’s looking for a light easy read.

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