Goldstrike by Matt Whyman

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Goldstrike by Matt Whyman

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 3/5
Reviewer: Gina Garnett
Reviewed by Gina Garnett
Summary: Sporting some interesting ideas and pretty cool set pieces, Goldstrike lacks the grip a thriller should have.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 272 Date: June 2009
Publisher: Simon and Schuster Children's Books
ISBN: 978-1847384515

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Goldstrike follows teen hacker Carl Hobbes subsequent to his escape from an Arctic detention camp. He's gone to ground in London, securing a job as night guard for Sphinx Cargo's Heathrow based warehouse, and sending the CIA on several wild goose chases across the globe. He's chosen Sphinx Cargo specifically because they boast ownership of Cleopatra; the most advanced super-computer ever built. If he can get Cleo on side, she can lend massive protection to him against the authorities. If he can't, not only will she react aggressively, but the ex-CIA bounty hunter and the Al-Quaida assassin will catch up with him.

Whyman has pitched perfectly to his intended audience, created well rounded characters, and put a great deal of thought into their surroundings. However, the characters are not hugely relatable, nor engaging, which makes it quite hard to care about what happens to them. The dialogue is realistic, but bland enough to be forgettable, and all this highlights the fact that suspense is in short supply.

At first, I thought it was just slow to start. Then I realised I was reading the climactic sequence, and was still wondering when the pace would pick up and the thriller would start. In short, it drags. This is a shame, because there's potential there for a book that would make you scared to use the internet any more and sinking into paranoia about Big Brother watching you.

In fairness, there are parts that are kind of cool. One of the wild goose chases Hobbes sends the CIA on involves making them think that a popular British motor racer is him. First you wonder with them why Hobbes is playing it so dangerously, gambling in a casino with a beautiful woman, then you get the bollocking with them for arresting one of Britain's most popular sportsmen. Also, Cleopatra has some tricks up her sleeve that begged to be translated onto film. It's doubly disappointing, therefore, that the rest of the book lacks sparkle.

In fairness, I might not have been quite so invested in Hobbes and what happened to him because I've not read Inside the Cage, so I do recommend reading that before Goldstrike. On the other hand, I got the impression that several of the secondary characters were not present in Hobbe's previous exploits, and I couldn't have cared less about them or been less interested in what they were doing if I'd tried.

A thriller should be impossible to put down, leaving you holding your breath as you wonder what will happen next, and gasp when you find out. Goldstrike had no such effects, which loses it the two stars. It's worth reading, especially if you're a Hobbes or a Whyman fan, but the pay off for the investment of your time isn't as high as it should, or as high as it could be. The ending forcefully beats a path for another sequel, but whether or not you'll actually want to find out what happens is debatable.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to The Bookbag.

If this type of book appeals to you then you might like to try Scared To Death by Alan Gibbons.

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Buy Goldstrike by Matt Whyman at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Goldstrike by Matt Whyman at


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