John Mariotti's The Chinese Conspiracy's Reviewed By June Maffin of Bookpleasures.com
Reviewer June Maffin:Living on an island in British Columbia, Canada, Dr. Maffin is a neophyte organic gardener, eclectic reader, ordained minister (Anglican/Episcopal priest) and creative spirituality writer/photographer with a deep zest for life. Previously, she has been grief counselor, broadcaster, teacher, journalist, television host, chaplain and spiritual director with an earned doctorate in Pastoral Care (medical ethics i.e. euthanasia focus). Presently an educator, freelance editor, blogger, and published author of three books, her most recent (Soulistry-Artistry of the Soul: Creative Ways to Nurture your Spirituality) has been published in e-book as well as paperback format and a preview can be viewed on YouTube videos. Founder of Soulistry™ she continues to lead a variety of workshops and retreats connecting spirituality with creativity and delights in a spirituality of play. You can find out more about June by clicking on her Web Site.
View all articles by June Maffin
Author: John Mariotti
Everything author John Mariotti puts forth in his second novel points to the chilling possibility of global cyber-terrorism. Worm viruses began infiltrating computers around 2000, but the tale Mariotti weaves takes cyber-terrorism the next step. And it’s frightening.
He creates a scenario where communication systems throughout the world are silenced: no cell phones; no internet; no land lines; no fax machines, no email. Cars/emergency vehicles/busses/trucks crash into one another, 911 lines are down, traffic signals only operate on green and … worse.
The story begins innocently enough when Jim Martini, concerned that the town’s major employer has failed suddenly and unexpectedly, returns to his home town of Briggs, West Virginia. In trying to learn what happened, he accidentally stumbles into a major international conspiracy - computer viruses, hacking, malware, cyber-technology are being used by a Chinese revolutionary group with the help of disgruntled Pakistanis in an attempt to take control of the United States and overthrow the Chinese government.
The good characters (a former girlfriend, her son, and an old high school buddy who now is a US Senator) are really good. The bad guys (immoral, sexually deviant, power-and-money-hungry) are really bad. No regard for the sanctity of human life, they are willing to commit murder, spy and betray anyone to achieve their goal.
The book’s subtitle What Happens When Nothing Works echoes throughout the chapters of the book. What would happen in today’s world if everything controlled by computers – phones, internet, Wall Street trading, air travel, traffic controls, GPS, even the most secure governmental and military communications – shut down, without warning, all at once, everywhere in the world? When pondering the date of the ultimate attack on the United States, one of the evil characters in the book remarks “The exact date is not important. Whatever date we choose, we will show them that 21st century power lies not in destruction, but in technology. Soon we will show them the power of ‘the silence.’ Mariotti’s sub-title and the reference to ‘the silence’ are eerie and become a prophetic clarion wake-up call for today’s world leaders to make their nations cyber-secure. Now!
At the outset, the author’s use of William James’ stream-of-consciousness (interior monologue) writing as a stylistic approach (“Little did I know how impossible that was to become.”) was intriguing. But, the italicized phrases and sentences soon became intrusive and at times condescending to the reader’s intelligence. However, setting that personal frustration aside, this is a fast-moving thriller reminiscent of the tradition of Tom Clancy and John Grisham novels filled with sub-plots of intrigue, betrayal and oh yes, of course, a touch of romance.
Deeply involved in governmental affairs, author Mariotti started his career in the telecommunications industry. These experiences held him in good stead as he developed his plot. If you want a book that invites you to consider what the war-of-the-future might be like or how technology can be manipulated on a global scale, this is the book for you. It’s an easy read with very short chapters - ideal for long airline flights, summer vacations, and a read-by-candlelight when the power goes out in a winter storm – and a chilling thought-provoker.