THE EXPHORIA CODE by ANTONY JOHNSTON

THE EXPHORIA CODE by ANTONY JOHNSTON

It’s been a long time since I read a book that simultaneously baffled me and had me hooked.

The world of Brigitte Sharp, a hacker turned cyber-spy, is so technical and tech-heavy, that at times I had no clue what Brigitte and her colleagues in MI6 were even talking about. But she is such an intriguing young woman, and so gutsy, that you are instinctively drawn to her.

Brigitte is half French, has an adored sister, an equally adored precocious young niece, a baby nephew and a heartily disliked brother-in-law. The feeling is mutual and Frédéric makes no attempt to hide his dislike of Bridge (as she is known) and her chaotic lifestyle.

Bridge discovers that there is a mole in a top-secret Anglo-French defence project and sets out to unmask him/her. She is driven by a desire to avenge the death of one of her online hacker community, a man she has never actually met, but with whom she feels kinship.

Her search takes her to France, and as she gets deeper and deeper into trying to unravel the hacking, she finds herself in considerably danger.

The book sweeps you along, even if (like me) you often don’t understand the technical side of the cyber-spying. It is nail-biting at times, and the last few chapters, with the inevitable race against time to foil a dangerous plot, are tense and exciting, and I was drained by the end of the book.

I have only one little criticism – there are lots of flashbacks about Bridge’s first mission in the field, in Syria, which ended badly. The trauma of that mission has scarred her, and still haunts her, years later. But I felt that these flashbacks were, perhaps, a tad too many and too long. They are necessary to round out her flawed and damaged personality, but I felt they could perhaps have been a little shorter.

This caveat aside, I thoroughly enjoyed the book, and can’t wait to read more about a very unlikely,very likeable heroine of our times.

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