The Helios Conspiracy
“There is something flat about the story despite all the action. We move from scene to scene as if touring a number of set piece tableaux in a museum ride. Our hero is motivated and dogged, but somehow he seems too tired and world weary to be giving it his best efforts. You get the impression he’d really rather sit in a diner and eat fries all day. And that’s not all that’s wrong with Andy Fisher.”
Jim DeFelice hardly needs any introduction to lovers of techno-thrillers. And for the fans, his new book The Helios Conspiracy is not likely to be a disappointment.
A monomaniacal scientist with plans to save the world from the looming energy crisis by launching solar collectors into space has his top engineer and manager murdered at a crucial moment. Then the launch of the first satellite fails, leaving a beautiful rocket scientist wrapped up in the problem of how and why.
Enter the tough FBI agent with a special interest in what’s going on—the murdered engineer was his ex-girlfriend and she’d called him just hours before her death to ask for his help. Suspects are thick on the ground—the Russians, the Chinese, and a ruthless financier who has been applying pressure to gain control of this new technology. But that is just the beginning.
The Helios Conspiracy is the third of Jim DeFelice’s books to feature FBI Special Agent Andy Fisher. Fisher may not actually save the lives of millions this time around (as he did in Threat Level Black), but for him, the stakes are just as high because, as they say, this time it’s personal.
However, while the fans may be happy, other readers may not be. There is something flat about the story despite all the action. We move from scene to scene as if touring a number of set piece tableaux in a museum ride. Our hero is motivated and dogged, but somehow he seems too tired and world weary to be giving it his best efforts. You get the impression he’d really rather sit in a diner and eat fries all day. And that’s not all that’s wrong with Andy Fisher.
The hero of the tale is so hardbitten you can see the toothmarks, so tough you could reinforce concrete with him. He lives on a diet of junk food, cigarettes, and bad coffee, never works out, and yet goes on operations with Navy SEALS when the fancy takes him. He must be one mean-looking SOB too, because, despite being curt beyond the point of rudeness, and rude to the point where even a saint would deck him, no one so much as tells him where to shove it. In short, he is such an extreme example of the genre stereotypical tough guy, he is almost a parody of it. It is sometimes very hard to take him seriously—especially the part where he is meant to be well read and highly educated. This is not the kind of man you can imagine curling up with a good book.
The Helios Conspiracy is a solid thriller-cum-detective story. If you’ve read the other Andy Fisher books, or you can’t get enough of Jim DeFelice, you’ll probably love it. Even with the stilted plot and the flat emotional feel, it is well written enough to keep you turning pages to the end.