Code of War by Tom Shepherd

This review is published on Reedsy/Discovery.

Tom Shepherd’s ability to build a crescendo of suspense carried me swiftly from one chapter to the next.

Jen Yates is at the helm of a covert team of highly skilled hackers, Marcus Keen and Harrison Lowe. Work requests are ordered by officials who never meet the cohorts and involve targets only seen virtually. As the story unfolds, the author adeptly alludes to members of the secretive trio carrying personal secrets of their own.

The story line introduces another set of characters with a focus on Gabriela Martinez, a CIA agent. The introduction of her character and connection to the hackers is intertwined effectively. With the author’s ability to pivot back and forth between scenarios, I was able to easily migrate from the viewpoint of one character to another.

Code of War is a techno-thriller that surpassed my expectations. It is written in the third person, which enables the reader to learn the strategic thinking of intense characters. Various themes emerge throughout the book: Power and backlash of technology, loyalty and betrayal, and global repercussion of political decisions and revenge. Shepherd does not allow the story to lose momentum. I was riveted from beginning to end. The story begins with action and ends with a longing to know what happens next.

My curiosity piqued at every hint of what Marcus and Harrison were concealing, and although primary questions were answered, I felt an urge to peel back the layers to learn more of the underlying reasons for their actions. Some of the dialogue struck me as a bit cartoonish. Jen referred to Marcus and Harrison as “boys,” and Marcus addressed Jen as “boss lady.” Overall, it was well-edited, though I did find two spelling errors.

I recommend Code of War to readers fascinated with technology and espionage. Be aware there are some violent scenes of torture, but that underscores the tenacity, perseverance and heroism of the main characters. The book excited me from cover to cover, and I am looking forward to the next adventure that follows this debut thriller.

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