In Matt Cook’s debut thriller, he weaves three seemingly disparate stories together into an entertaining tale that appeals to fans of Ian Fleming’s James Bond, Alias, and The Last Ship. In one vein of the story, a prisoner named Ragnar is explosively freed from his captivity in a Siberian prison; in another, Stanford graduated student Austin Hardy is recruited by scientist/handler/teacher Malcolm Clare to a secret government assignment hours before Clare will disappear; in the third, Jake Rove, ex-solider-turned-do-gooder boards a luxury cruise as a reward for playing the role of hero. What does these have to do with each other? Only time will tell.
Cook’s writing is thorough and complex at times, swift and surprising at others. While this is his debut fictional endeavor, he obviously has skills as both a researcher and a writer. His provisions of background for each of the major characters is exceptionally deep, and he’s confident of having a real handle on the scientific pieces he weaves together in a tale that ultimately revolves around a weapon that any Bond villain would love: a satellite that disperses an electronics-frying burst.
Obviously, this falls into the “weapon falls into the wrong hands” catalogue of thrillers, but the way it plays out keeps us guessing a bit. I blew through the book in one sitting but found the characters, their motivations, and their depiction to be engrossing. With the diversity of characters, and the backstory that is revealed in the final act, Cook has proven to be worth a read; when it comes to our desire for the next Jason Bourne, the next Sydney Bristow, the next Jack Ryan, fans may find that there’s a literary version that may prove cinematic as well.
Sabotage is a fun read, but it also raises questions about our personal motivations, and about what weapons of mass destruction/protection we build if they’re going to fall into the wrong hands. Cook’s debut merits 4 out of 5 stars, and knowing what I know now, I’ll be eagerly awaiting a sophomore follow-up.