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on February 5, 2010
When planes start dropping out of the sky and when people and their electronic equipment - computers and cellular phones - are baked and fried from a deadly energy pulse, the CIA, FBI, Homeland Security, and the President of the United States discover they are helpless against their own technology, which has been commandeered by a group of terrorists and turned against them. Without any plausible way for the government to prevent the terrorists from destroying the lives of millions of people on the East Coast - unless the government meets their demands - Dan Riker, a family man and an IT Security Expert, finds himself in the middle of a technological war that will remind the reader of the many patriotic exploits of Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan. If you like Jack Ryan, you'll love Dan Riker.
Policastro's second novel, Dark End of the Spectrum, is a blockbuster of a story, with nonstop action that will keep you turning the pages. You will be swept away not only by the nonstop action that is typical of such authors as Tom Clancy, James Rollins, and Harlan Coben, you'll be captivated by Dan Riker's wife, Amelia, and his daughter, Kaileigh, who are abducted and held hostage by the terrorists to prevent Riker from helping the government. You will be reminded of one of the more classical and memorable lines of Bogart when he says to Bergman at the end of Casablanca: "The problem of three little people don't mount to a hill of beans in this crazy world." And this is significant because Bogart expresses the same sentiments Riker feels throughout the story, especially when he is forced to choose between saving the lives of millions of unsuspecting people or saving the lives of his beloved wife and daughter. Since reading Dark End of the Spectrum, I've often asked myself how would I respond if I woke up one morning and found myself facing a similar, undesirable situation or predicament as Dan Riker.
Creating fascinating prose, a wrenching human drama, and nonstop action is not an easy feat for any writer to accomplish, but Policastro succeeds superbly. He manages to explicate in layman terms the intricate workings behind modern technology, including PDAs, ultra wide band frequencies, heat seeking projectiles, direct energy weapons, direct energy pulses, global positioning systems, eye scans, computer chips with artificial intelligence, cellular phone technology, and the Internet. You will be more than a little fascinated by the workings of the neural bracelet that Riker and Takara wear on their wrists to communicate without the help of words their inner thoughts, emotions, and desires to one another over distance.
Dan Riker will find his way out of several interesting and deadly situations. For instance, Policastro will have him trapped in a buried school bus with Jake Stone, a former CIA agent and IT expert who will help Riker escape from the terrorists. Riker is also sent on a 150-mile trek across North Carolina to Wilmington in search of his wife and daughter, and falls into another trap. Your heart will be racing and pumping adrenaline as Riker narrowly escapes heat seeking projectiles, and cellular phones that are used by the terrorists to deliver deadly energy pulses.
Policastro portrays Riker as a well-rounded American male, whose life may be described as normal, serene, and unchallenging. However, all of this changes when his family is abducted and he becomes obsessed with the idea of revenge and doing whatever it takes to get his wife and daughter safely back home. While driving back to Raleigh from Wilmington, he recalls how he had argued with Amelia at the end of what had begun as a pleasant day-trip to the beach, and he feels both guilt and remorse, as he looks across at the empty seat where Amelia would've been sitting if she hadn't been abducted and if he hadn't thought he was the only man who could stop the terrorist and save his country.
Policastro skillfully breaks up the pacing and rhythm of the action by introducing comic relief at crucial moments in the characters of Jeanine Braggloisi and Gary Stakhower. You will find their repartee to be comedic, delightful, and promising. It is a wonderful touch to a fast-paced story.
The author also brings into discussion major themes and conflicts that keenly differentiate between old and new technology, and human and artificial intelligence. Happily for mankind, the author creates a world in which human intelligence with all its flaws still has the mental wherewithal to outsmart the artificial intelligence it strove to create through computer silicon chips. It is the old technology of radio vacuum tubes and the courage of Hildy Grummenweurkes that eventually outsmarts the artificial intelligence of the computer chip that was growing exponentially stronger or more intelligent with the passing of each day. The scale representing human intelligence on one side and artificial intelligence on the other side is shifting. Riker, Friedheld, Sanchez, Motega, Bastille, Braggloisi, Stakhower, Taraka, Grummenweurkes and others are able to thwart or slow down the shift in balance, keeping it, for the moment, in favor of humanity. But, the author has made us aware that a shift in balance is occurring, and that a day might arrive when the balance of power might shift in favor of artificial intelligence. If this should occur, will humanity becomes slaves of machines with higher artificial intelligence? I don't know. But, I am thankful that we have authors like Anthony Samuel Policastro who raise our awareness to these possibilities, and create interesting characters like Dan Riker who will strive to keep the balance of power in favor of humanity.
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VINE VOICEon June 3, 2009
At 468 pages, Dark End of the Spectrum, by Anthony S. Policastro, felt rather long to me, but the pages turned quickly, even on a computer, and by the time the CIA arrived to take Dan away from his family on a sunny day off I was thoroughly hooked. I'm not sure what I'd have done then if my cell-phone had rung.

Dan understands technology. He talks about Ultra Wide Band transmissions and 512 bit encryption, and I wonder how out of date I am. But he's plausible and convincing when he describes the danger of secure networks being compromised by wireless devices. It's certainly interesting to see how we might sacrifice security for simplicity, and then to be sideswiped by the idea that we might have sacrificed security in the name of avoiding terrorism too.

But the novel isn't just about technology gone wild. Dan has a wife and child and a home life too, and the up-down relationship of a marriage strained by work grounds the tale very realistically. The author writes convincing dialog, and Amelia's sudden anger as Dan leaves to help the CIA saddened me because of its plausibility. It did disappoint me that Dan so easily attributes her outburst to her period. But then...

Well, then the story really takes off. DEWs and HSPs and other acronyms abound, but the reader soon learns to speak the same language. Dan runs for his life, not knowing who to trust, while the whole world falls apart. Cars, helicopters and houses are destroyed. People die, spectacularly. And, when the whole country is held to ransom, even the President gets involved.

Descriptive details and discussions slowed the story down at times, but not enough to distract me from reading on. I stayed hunched over the computer late at night, wishing I had a paperback to carry to bed, but unable to stop reading. This is certainly a thrilling book for anyone who likes technology, conspiracy, action and disaster; one to read when you've plenty of time to spare because you'll not want to put it down. Your computer had better not be acting up and your cell-phone not be on the blink. And you'd better hope no one hacks into the power grid.
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on May 26, 2010
This is a fascinating story; a page turner. When I downloaded my 99 cent copy on my iPhone via a Kindle app, it was the first book I ever read as an ebook, so the book had two tests to pass - that of a new author and subject area for this non-fiction reader; and that of being read on my iPhone. It passed both.

I loved the book. Loved the high tech landscape of the storyline - which I only partly understood, but didn't have to fully understand to follow the story; it kept me intrigued. Loved the unexpected artistic details, phrases highlighting something beautiful or pointing out a subtlety that made me respect the author's awareness. Loved the physicality of the story - the descriptions of what sensations the characters experienced, like the burning in their legs as they ran for their lives. And I really enjoyed the relationships.

The writing was so vivid I felt like I was watching a movie. (It would make an exciting movie!)

PS The ending caught me by surprise. I wrestled with it, and am still wrestling with it. If I were telling a fellow softie about the book, I'd say, it's a great ride, enjoy it, and maybe stop before the ending! (At least the ending comes at the very end!)
PPS I recommend reading the three reviews written previous to mine, as each is informative to a prospective reader in different ways.
PPPS It's a great read!
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on March 27, 2011
Having owned a Kindle for a few months now and been very pleased with the books I have so far downloaded I was also anticipating a good read with this novel. Oh the disappointment! I have to be honest and say it ranks up there with the worst novels I have ever read. Poor characterisation, cliched writing, shallow characters who seem to make no or little sense in relation to each other. As an adventure novel written for children it could work, however for adults it feels badly plotted & written. A waste of 99 cents unfortunately.
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on September 3, 2010
I don't think even a brilliant editor could save this. Have read around 80 books on my kindle in the 8 mths I've had it, and this book shows the least promise thus far.
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on July 22, 2010
Obviously some people have enjoyed reading this book; but as for me, it is the worst I have ever read. Star Wars revisited? Possibly. The meandering of the plot is so easy to anticipate. Even at 79 cents for the Kindle download, I feel cheated.
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on July 28, 2010
I was surprised to read that this author touts himself as a technology expert and as a writer. This is one of the worst books I have ever written. The technology is all over the place, and most of it is nonsense. Worse than the poorly understood technology is the writing. The characters (especially Riker) make no sense. They change emotions at the flip of a coin, and the emotions make no sense with the story. The cliches are overwhelmingly trite.

The one good thing about this book is that it is so bad that it becomes almost funny. I stuck it out to the end, but would advise others to save themselves the pain.
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VINE VOICEon March 7, 2010
Dark End of the Spectrum is one of those thrillers that no matter how late it gets you cannot put it down. The author certainly knows and understands his technology and his subject as it shows in the how the story unfolds. Some of the words slowed me down as I'm not caught up on all the modern jargon but I quickly and easily figured it out and wasn't distracted from the story.

Dan Riker was written in such a way that all readers will love him and hope he succeeds in both defeating the threat of ICER and saving his family. The plot is rich in details, action, and leaves you on the edge of yor seat.

Mr. Policastro's writing style reminds me of other thrillers that I've read by the likes of Clancy and say that if a reader enjoys edge of their seat excitement, nail-biting drama, and wondering just how real this tale could be, then pick up either the Kindle version or a paperback. You won't be disappointed.
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on July 13, 2010
This is the most boring over detailed piece of trash I have ever read. The ending is horrible. If you liked this book GOD help you. I was determined to give it every possible chance and did so to my own dismay to the very end. If this is a true example of this authors works I for one will never read another. I was fooled by the reviews and doubt their authinticity.
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on August 14, 2012
I just cannot believe that somebody rated this book with 4 or 5 stars. Very likely, this is the worst book I have ever read.

This book is so disappointing that I almost feel cheated. The disappointment comes from the fact that the beginning is actually gripping. It is fast paced -as some of the positive reviews point out- and technologically interesting. The beginning. But then the story goes downhill, really really fast, and it doesn't seem to stop.

The English is bad. I don't know how many of you care about bad grammar, but I am put off when a book -for which I paid- contains all sorts of "you're" vs "your", "it's" vs "its" and that kind of mistakes. Example? "You're name must be a magic word like open says me" (literal), or "peddling" instead of "pedaling". Yes, the writing is THIS bad. Same for punctuation. Same for back-references.

The plot (implausible),... the technology (puah!)... the characters... It would really be a pain to discuss these aspects. Do yourself a favor, pass on this one.

P.S.: Ok, I get it now: one of the 5-star reviews is from the author himself!!!
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