Sect-Intel operative John Powers, ex-CIA with a heart murmur, is on an assignment spanning the globe in Parr's lackluster thriller. Info dumps that introduce characters and overly detailed backstories slow down action scenes and make it hard for readers to differentiate plot from unnecessary information. The book's characters are poorly developed and the plot mixes arms-dealing cartels with kidnapping and Wall Street hacking and short sells into a muddle that will confuse readers.
Date Submitted: June 13, 2016
"An author is an explorer and a teacher. If well done, a book presents facts, theories and psychology wrapped in a story-line so that the lessons are retained in whatever memory compartment excitement occupies. Operation Black Swan is just such a thrilling Master Lesson. John Powers and his team may be the swashbuckling operatives, but Owen Parr is the lecturer. With his considerable Wall Street experience, Parr reminds us of the vulnerability of our complicated, sensitive and interrelated global financial systems. He eloquently uses rich and colorful settings, fictional characters and dialogue to produce a riveting, fast- paced canvass. It is a fun and educational ride."
"Owen Parr has spun a fast-paced and entertaining novel of international intrigue and action that centers on a carefully orchestrated cyber-attack on the United States paired with wide-ranging terrorist acts – all aimed at rocking the American stock market and creating economic and civic chaos.
At the center of all this is Parr’s main character, John Powers, ex-Special Forces and CIA operative who is a classic man of action with a mordant wit. Powers leads an elite team working for a private security and intelligence firm run by former CIA operative Alex Cardenas. Their hearts are pure, their methods are ruthless and often violent – with no apologies. The men and women of Cardenas’ small firm do what American law enforcement and intelligence operatives cannot.
The bad guys in this book are an elite team of Chinese military hackers set on stealing the secrets of an American manufacturer of cutting-edge drone technology while also setting the stage for an elaborate manipulation of the stock market to reap economic havoc. The Chinese are allied with some rather nasty members of the Cuban army’s intelligence branch, personified by an imposing and vengeful colonel of Afro-Cuban descent, Abimbola Cruz. Throw in two dozen jihadi terrorists charged with executing the boots-on-American-ground part of the plot and you have a heady cocktail that mixes all the fears and dread of modern life.
Parr doesn’t give the reader detailed descriptions of the ins-and-outs of cyber-attacks, stock manipulations or terrorist infiltration like you’d find in a Ken Follett book. Instead, he smartly states these as matter-of-fact realities that can and do happen on a daily basis, keeping his focus on well-developed characters, crisp dialogue and rapid-fire action, with Powers usually leading the charge. But not always – the women on his team are smart, gorgeous and deadly competent. Nothing like lethal skills and intelligence to burn to ensure gender equality.
The book has a satisfying ending, with the good guys winning and the bad guys thwarted – for now. Which shouldn’t be a surprise because Parr has an ongoing series of stories featuring Powers. Here’s betting we see the nasty Col. Abimbola Cruz again, out for vengeance."