The Darkfall Switch by David Lindsley

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The Darkfall Switch by David Lindsley

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Category: General Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Louise Laurie
Reviewed by Louise Laurie
Summary: A who-dunnit type of book with an international flavour. Set firmly in the world of computers, with a courteous nod to engineering, Dan Foster, expert in his field, sets out to solve a complex problem in which he's thwarted at every turn and twist.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 224 Date: November 2010
Publisher: Robert Hale Ltd
ISBN: 978-0709091462

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The book opens on a sultry, hot summer's day in central London. Imagine the stifling heat is the subliminal message here, especially for those passengers on the underground - ... as if they were all joined in some macabre dance as the train rattled along the tunnel. Everybody pressed against others. Suddenly there's a problem with the infrastructure. A big problem. As the experts frantically work behind the scenes to get London moving again - the unthinkable happens. People lose their lives in what appears to be a power cut.

Cut to a geeky, whizz-kid in the States. What he doesn't know about computers you could write on the back of an envelope apparently. He's pitting his wits against 'the establishment' - and winning. It amused him to defeat the firewall. And he soon is able to process smoothly through to The Darkfall Switch which gives the book its title.

And Lindsley gets into his stride good and proper as he waxes lyrical about all things engineering. At times I felt as if I was reading a how-to manual on that very subject. While I appreciate that this is the author's background, it is a work of fiction, after all. So this book may be a little off-putting for some readers. I was fine with it (but my husband's an engineer, I'm familiar with the language, if you like). To be fair to Lindsley, he has a nice, traditional way of telling his story. Proper sentences. I also liked his inventive chapter headings but again perhaps a little incongruous with the subject matter and the plot generally.

The central character, ace engineer Dan Foster travels to the US to try to discover who the hacker is. And put an immediate stop to it. But just as he thinks he's getting somewhere, something happens to the young hacker. Foster's now dealing with a dead-end line of questioning. Or is he? And so there's the odd twist here and there in the main plot.

It did feel as if Lindsley had engineered (if you'll 'scuse the pun) the love interest for Dan. All a bit twee, a bit lame. Strains of a (rather weak) James Bond-esque scenario. Apart from the fact that last time I looked, Bond didn't wear mucky overalls. Some of the conversations between some of the characters (and there's only a handful) are obviously there for Lindsley to spout out his technical/engineering knowledge. Fine, up to a point. The area can be dry and that's putting it mildly. He doesn't want to risk his readers nodding off.

The plot does ratchet up a notch or two. MPs and senior ministers of the Crown are now involved. The heat is on for Dan and his trouble-shooting skills. The reader travels with him as he criss-crosses the Atlantic in his quest (there, Lindsley's got me all old-fashioned now). We meet a small clutch of characters, Americans with their own agenda, a burly Scotsman ...

The international angle is also present to a certain degree. Not over-played. It's all about corporate greed and the like. We're taken right back to the beginning of The Darkfall Switch. Who gains and who loses. Good fun but perhaps a little too predictable at times.

Overall, I would say that this book is a good enough read. Solid and dependable rather than sparky and creative, in my opinion. I couldn't help a wry smile when I read the back cover which said A recommended read for the summer holidays, Fair enough, I thought. The recommendation was by the Journal of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers. Enough said?

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

If this book appeals then you might enjoy Black Flies by Shannon Burke.

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