Many and varied are the thrillers which vie for readers’ attention these days, so something special is needed for a novel to rise above the general run. Adrian Dawson quickly demonstrates that he has the smarts to do just that with Codex, which has already created something of a stir in its iBook incarnation.

The central character is Jack Bernstein, chairman of the world’s biggest Artificial Intelligence Corporation, which has an ambitious initiative in its sights: to make available to millions access to the capabilities of a phenomenally advanced computer system. But a terrorist atrocity aboard an plane costs the life of Jack’s daughter Lara — and grief-stricken though he is, Jack doesn’t think that her individual murder was the reason for the bombing – or, for that matter, that she had been an element of a bizarre conspiracy involving a religious mystery whose roots lie in the distant past. Jack is swiftly involved in a dangerous scenario of global proportions, and discovers that the life he thought he was leading has been something of sham.

With the globetrotting narrative here – along with well-orchestrated bursts of action — the market targeted here is clearly the straightforward one colonised by Dan Brown, but in actual fact, Adrian Dawson is a better writer (if anything, closer in style to Michael Crichton). While the characters are not drawn with any great nuance they function perfectly as integral parts of a pulse-raising narrative that rarely allows the reader pause for breath. And it’s refreshing in a blockbuster thriller such as Codex that one doesn’t have to put one’s intelligence on the back burner.

Barry Forshaw

Codex is published by Last Passage

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