Plot: Whitlock has spun an intricate, high-energy, twisty plot that will keep the reader guessing until the very end.
Prose/Style: The dialogue has a tendency to feel a bit stilted and somewhat unnatural; occasionally the descriptions of action sequences can prove disorienting for the reader. However, Whitlock capably sets the scene, builds tension, and establishes a powerful sense of atmosphere throughout the novel.
Originality: This book is reminiscent of various novels concerning characters who live on the fringes of society. Whitlock does an effective job of adding his own personal touch to the genre.
Character Development/Execution: The protagonist and his internal conflict regarding his experiences in the novel are crafted very well and in a clear manner. Some of the female characters can feel less believable, but this may be due to them being perceived from the perspective of a flawed and somewhat self-absorbed individual.
Date Submitted: August 28, 2021
When a writer of thrillers can capture a reader’s attention with an act tangential to the oncoming story with the polished skill that Whitlock demonstrates in the opening page of his book, odds are the remainder of the book will be darkly involving.
Welcome to a new author of note – a man whose polished prose enhances the dark themes he weaves. D.W. Whitlock makes a strong appearance on the stage of contemporary writers.
Holy crow...what a TERRIFIC read! D.W. Whitlock has totally outdone himself with Crucible of Fear: A Thriller. Although this book was recommended, I was a little tentative because cyber stories don't typically rank high on my list of reading preferences. I am so glad I heeded the recommendation!
This deliciously suspenseful novel heralds a major new talent from a masterful storyteller. With its jam-packed plot and dramatic action, this techno-thriller debut novel is sure to appear on bestseller lists. Pure, reading pleasure at its finest!
Set in the not too distant future, technology becomes a double edged sword. In this page turner, Dante, a successful businessman, enjoys all the perks of life that the modern technological world offers, until that same technology is used against him. Starting with a campaign to smear his name, the threats increase and become more dangerous, even life threatening, involving not only himself, but his family. Unsure of who he can trust and where the next attack will come, he struggles to get to the bottom of the mystery before it gets to him. Add two more characters in the same situation and the book becomes impossible to put down. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is willing to stay up late just to finish!
Cyberharassment against a Hollywood businessman quickly evolves into coercion and physical attacks in this debut techno-thriller.Someone has apparently targeted Dante Ellis, founder and CEO of a successful advertising company. Soon after he receives a vaguely intimidating text, a deepfake appears online—digitally altered footage showing him engaged in a vile sex act. There’s no shortage of people potentially harboring animosity against Dante: a fired employee, an industry rival, etc. But tracking down the anonymous aggressor isn’t easy even after this harassment turns into overt threats. Dark Messiah, which seems to be a group of hackers, soon takes credit. But Dante isn’t the only cybervictim in Hollywood. A SWAT team storms the home of information technology guy Gary Wexler on the basis of a false report. Aspiring singer Briana Warren learns that an unknown individual has a video of her that she’d like to remain private. Both Gary’s and Briana’s lives ultimately intersect with Dante’s in an elaborate scheme the CEO struggles to decipher. Dark Messiah’s reach is immeasurable, as it manages to hurt Dante professionally as well as physically. The onslaught escalates further when individuals kidnap Dante’s 9-year-old daughter, Abigail, and Dark Messiah gives him a harrowing choice in order to save her. Whitlock’s tale, with its contemporary dangers and tech, is frighteningly realistic. For example, cyberthreats include doxxing people—ruining them by posting their private information online. The author steeps his narrative in a foreboding atmosphere; omnipresent dragonfly drones seemingly spy on individuals, and it is clear Dark Messiah closely monitors its victims. Moreover, the prose seethes with menacing descriptions: A security door’s lock pops “like a gunshot,” and an “early morning sun knifed in under the blinds.” Brief scenes and chapters, along with copious twists, produce a swift pace. While necessary exposition in the final act decelerates the narrative, intrigue remains high all the way to the smashing conclusion.
This razor-sharp, tech-laden tale proves both convincing and exhilarating.
The writing style was absolutely engrossing, keeping me absorbed in the story and ensuring that I couldn’t put the book down. The writing appeared to be professional edited. The action was written and executed in a detailed manner, so I could visualize each event clearly. Some of the attacks were rather graphic, but this served to clearly define how high the stakes were and maintain the thrilling tone of the novel. The characters were all unique and realistic, with their personalities shining through their dialogue and their actions. My only complaint is that I would have liked more information on some of the characters, but that is a rather nit-picky complaint because there was enough groundwork and characterization to carry the story successfully.
I rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. The premise was realistic, and the suspenseful storyline was clever and well executed. I would recommend this novel to fans of cyber-thrillers, plots that keep you guessing, and high-stakes action sequences. However, because the book contains sexual content and graphic violence, I would not recommend this novel to younger readers or those who are sensitive to such topics.