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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on November 12, 2010
Imagine a biological weapon so incredibly powerful, it can "eat" through a human in mere minutes. Now imagine that weapon in the hands of a terrorist, a terrorist so elusive and terrifying you don't even know where to start looking. Ridley Fox finds himself in the position of hunting down this weapon, and he is misled every step of the way. Never knowing who to trust, he is led on a whirlwind adventure to try to take control of this deadly weapon in order to safeguard all of humanity. Every time Ridley thinks he's made progress, there is a another surprise waiting to smack him upside the head and keep him on the chase. Time is running out; will he be able to accomplish his mission? Or will most of the world be wiped out by a cloud of red?

Russell Brooks has created an action thriller that is immediately engaging, as well as terrifying, quickly drawing in readers. This fast-paced adventure offers a different take on bioterrorism and its potential uses. The results are altogether scary, as you find yourself pondering the potential reality of this plot. This book reads like it was meant to be an action-packed thriller on the silver screen. It is pretty well-edited and the writing is clean and easy to read. The book moves along quickly, but some of the pacing seemed a bit "off" for me. Some of the secrets were revealed a little earlier than I would have expected, and something about the pacing of character introductions threw me off a little. I can't quite put a finger on what it was, but it just didn't "flow" as well as I would have liked.

Although I think that would make a fabulous and entrancing movie- one I would surely line up to see- it left me a little cold as a book. I found the writing to be a little "sterile," leaving it completely up to the reader to do a lot of interpretation to add feeling and emotion to the story. In a movie, this would be the actor's job to interpret. In a book, I like a little more "voice" to help me imagine the characters and the scenes. In that same vein, the characters were not fully developed, and, as a result, their conversations didn't ring completely "true." It's not that the writing style was bad, it really wasn't. I just wanted a little more "flesh" to help me engage more completely in the storyline. I really want to be inside a character's head, or at least be able to imagine what it might be like to be in there. Motivations were explained, but I wanted to actually feel them, not just read about them.

For readers who don't focus on character development and motivation, and are much more interested in events in fast-paced action thrillers, this can be the perfect story for you! There are just a few days left on Russell Brooks' "Stop the Succession" tour, so check it out to find more reviews, interviews, and general book information. Buy "Pandora's Succession" here!

3.5 /5 stars @ "MotherLode" blog
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
TOP 1000 REVIEWERon November 2, 2010
Pandora's Succession throws you straight into the action from the opening scene. This thriller follows Operative Ridley Fox as he chases the group who have developed Pandora, a deadly bio-weapon. It's also a personal mission for Ridley, the extremist group murdered his fiance and he wants revenge on those who ordered her killed. Yet things are not all they seem, another shadowy group emerges with a deadly Promise, and Ridley doesn't know who to trust.
The first chapter of Pandora's Succession really drew me into the book, it's fast-paced with an intriguing hook and it gives you a good sense of who Ridley is and what the story is all about. It's a traditional espionage tale involving secret miltary agencies and extreme factions who plan to take over the world. The familiarity of the storyline gives it credibility, Pandora and Clarity are both terrifying bio weapons, and it's easy to imagine that they exist. The plot works well, the pace is fast and escalates to a climatic finale. The tangents and misdirections that are part of the story pull together neatly by the conclusion and I think Russell has room to move if he decides to create a sequel with Ridley and Parris.
Fox could be an action hero cliche, however Brooks has built upon the stereotype to develop an appealing character. Though tough and determined, we are shown his vulnerabilities as well. I liked his wise ass attitude, and felt his voice was distinct.
I'm not sure Parris is as well developed, despite the background we have for her, I felt her part in the story could have been stronger and more deftly weaved into the storyline.
The villians are interesting, there are several groups and individuals that serve as suspects and Brooks maintains the suspicion and tension well. Dr Marx is particularly chilling and her motivations were well thought out.
It's evident that Russell carefully considered and researched the specifics for his book, as a consequence the details are believable. As a thriller there is neccessarily plenty of action as Ridley confronts his enemies. Brooks skillfully details the physical confrontations and in some parts I appreciated being able to `see' the action, in others I think the accuracy stifled the flow of the scene. Though a minor irritant, some of the more ordinary actions of his characters were stepped through and there are quite a few secondary characters for example, that pass through quite quickly. While some of them had their uses, the elaborate characterisation (ie details of their appearance etc) felt like interuptions. It's a difficult balance to get right in a thriller because so often it's the subtle details that count in helping the reader determine the significant events and characters from those that are not, and it can be distracting when there are too many to sort through.
I enjoyed Pandora's Succession overall, it's a fast paced thriller with a strong, credible storyline. Brook's is to be congratulated on an impressive debut.

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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2010
After the death of his fiancé, CIA operative, Ridley Fox makes a decision to hunt the killers. Blaming his own ineptness, knowing he should have understood that danger, he goes in deep to uncover their plot and gather his revenge at the same time. The Arms of Ares which he knows as a terrorist group as well as the murderer of his fiancé has set in motion a plot to gain control of the world. He has received information that they have come into possession of a biological weapon called Pandora. In receiving the intelligence necessary to track down one of the labs he is not only compromised but also captured by the killers. Rescued by the wife of one of the biologists involved in the experimentation and later killed, he finds that Ares has infiltrated many of the top organizations of the world, including British and Russian intelligence. Fox tries to secure more information and learn if there are more labs or facilities working on the project but she is killed before he gets the information.

As he communicates within his organization he is also introduced to a Dr. Marx, one of several other Biologists in the CDC with knowledge of the Pandora organism. What he learns causes him and his superiors alarm; this weapon can destroy the world as they know it. In the hands of the Arms of Ares, the entire world is in danger. Following the leads and tracking the sources Ridley Fox, known as a renegade in his organization, finds himself in a position to view the result of this weapon first hand when one of his only friends is killed in action, during a raid on one of the facilities. The organism feeds on DNA and so far they have not found a way to stop the process. They must find a way of destroying Pandora before it can be used to create worldwide devastation.

As Fox is drawn deeper into the dregs of the terrorist organization dealing with and experimenting with Pandora he discovers that there are other groups also after the same organism, each with their own agenda and plans which in either case are not acceptable. He also finds that different factions of the government also have operatives in place working behind the scenes to help bring the danger of Pandora to a close. As he races against time to find the answers, more and more people are being killed. There is more at stake then anyone imagines, and the Arms of Ares as well a group of cultists, lead by the man known to Fox only as the October man, will do whatever it takes to be the one to control Pandora.

What Fox finds is that as each plan is breeched and every action compromised, there is a mole in his own organization as well as those in both the British and Russian intelligence. As bodies continue to drop he finds himself on his own, having to depend on a woman from his past who has no reason to help him. Through an unintentional missed meeting she was almost killed and blamed her current situation on him. But she too understands the importance of stopping Pandora before it can be used. Will they be able to find a way to protect the world from Pandora? Can they do what no one else can?

In Pandora's Succession, Russell Brooks brought to life the very real worry of biological warfare and the possibility of what that would look like in our world. He has developed a group of terrorists, with no care of the human side of their business, but just who or what will bring the highest paycheck. He has then thrown in a group of zealots, a cult, interested in cleansing the world and setting themselves up as the new world order. He has taken different parts of our current history and used that madness to build a more cataclysmic horror, a picture that even the evil of those original perpetrators may not have dreamed of.

The story is fast paced and the characters very real and solid, capable of hurts and emotions, and as human as they could be. While Fox appears to get out of many situations that would seem to be impossible for a normal man, given the circumstances of each and with the thought behind each escape, Russell Brooks makes it seem both likely and possible for this to happen. There is a great deal of technical and biological information throughout the book guiding you though, giving you a great understanding of the science behind the story.

I really enjoyed this book, it was innovative and yet a bit reminiscent of the current events of the world now and in the past. It gives us both insight and motivation into how differences come into play within the different countries of the world. I found it both interesting and exciting, with just enough human emotion to keep it real.
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17 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on July 13, 2011
The Arms of Ares, a global criminal organisation staffed by former KGB officers, has gained
possession of the most powerful biological weapon in history and is intent on selling it to
terrorist groups worldwide. Standing in their way is elite CIA operative Ridley Fox with
his own personal vendetta: Ares murdered his fiancee. When the weapon is stolen by a
doomsday cult called The Promise the chase is on. Who will get to them first, Fox or Ares?
Or will The Promise with its brainwashed followers and army of ninjas succeed in its plan to
exterminate mankind?

This action-packed, globe-trotting thriller has all the classic ingredients of an enjoyable, if
rather cliched, James Bond style adventure. However, the novel also has its flaws, some
minor, and some rather more serious.

The book is unashamedly cliched. In terms of the general plot this is not necessarily a
problem and can help the book feel instantly comfortable, but in the dialogue and action, the
corny moments quickly become annoying. A little more imagination in the execution would
have significantly improved the novel.

The author has clearly researched his overseas locations well and generally does a good
job at making them feel believable by inserting little tidbits of local information. Unfortunately,
this level of research does not extend to the science, computers and weaponry. In a novel,
such as this it is permissible to take a few liberties in order to improve the story but they
should be taken in a calculated manner and only where necessary. Particularly important
are details about weaponry as thriller fans will instantly spot mistakes - simply knowing the
names of a few exotic weapons is not sufficient.

Further damaging the credibility of the story are the numerous flaws in logic and continuity
errors. These should have been fixed during the editing process, as should the typos (I
counted 39 but bet there are more!)

The most important element in any thriller is tension. Ultimately, this is the biggest failing in
this novel. The hero is too perfect for us to ever doubt his success and the main characters
instantly figure out what's going on with insufficient evidence to inform them. This is a
real shame as having created a plot involving insiders, impostors and frequent double-
crossing the opportunities for building tension are legion. The most glaring failures (and
the easiest to fix) are those where the hero finds himself in a sticky situation. The hero's
plan is consistently described in detail and then soon afterwards we read the near identical
description of his actions as the plan is executed perfectly (except for on one occasion in
the opening chapter). It would have been far more satisfying if, instead of telling us what the
hero is about to do, the author had built up the difficulty of the situation before surprising us
with the hero's solution.

Overall, this novel reads like a first draft. There is potential in the plot and this could, after
several re-drafts, become a real page-turner. Even in it's present form, there are far worse
novels to pick up. However, in this competitive genre, you will never run out of thrillers to
read that are of far better quality and so I cannot recommend purchasing this one.

Written for the Juniper Grove Blog
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2011
This story, Pandora's Succession, is a frightening reality of what could happen in chemical warfare. It's
action-packed from the first chapter. However, there were so many characters introduced rather quickly
it took me awhile to remember who was who. With that said, make sure you have plenty of time
because it's hard to put down once you get going. Mr. Brooks obviously did a great deal of research on
chemical warfare, firearms, and espionage to make this riveting, suspense- filled

Mr. Brooks has this great ability to lead to you think one thing and then surprise you completely one
chapter later. You'll be constantly amazed. I know it's been said before, BUT THIS WOULD MAKE
AN EXCELLENT MOVIE! It has all the essentials for a good thriller. I received a complimentary copy
of this book in exchange for a review.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 2011
_review by my friend Anna_

Pandora's Succession, by Russell Brooks, is the story of an extremely dangerous virus called Pandora. The virus has existed for hundreds of years, but only in recent years an organization called The Arms of Ares has modified the virus in order to sell it to terrorists and other groups, to be used as a biological weapon.

Ridley Fox, who works for CIA, must stop Ares from releasing the virus onto the black market. His hunt for the virus leads him and a few colleagues across the world, from Chechnya to Africa and all the way to Japan. Along the way Fox finds himself in a lot of dangerous situations as he has more than one enemy who want to see him dead. Luckily Fox is an excellent agent with a past in the Joint Task Force Two (JTF2), Canada's answer to America's SEALs. Fox is not afraid to use various firearms and different tricks to get out of the situations alive.

In Tokyo the CEO of a medical company, Hexagon Pharmaceuticals, Hideaki Hashimoto, is also the leader of a cult called The Promise. With the help of a drug called Clarity, Hashimoto's team brain wash young people as they recruit them to the cult. The recruited men and women have a difficult or criminal past where they have brought shame upon themselves or their families. It is the Promise's intention to release the Pandora virus and kill all the people of the planet. Only the cult members will be saved as they shall live in a bunker while Pandora takes care of the rest of the population. After the Pandora has done its job, the cult members will live a wonderful life together on the "new" planet. Hexagon has been able to modify the Pandora virus so that it only attacks human beings, not animals, as the original virus from the Arms of Ares was designed to do.

As Ridley Fox finds out, it is not easy to know who is a friend and who is an enemy. Who can he trust? Or can he trust anyone at all? Personally I found it a little difficult to follow all the double agents and moles in the story. People you thought were on Fox's side turned out to be bad people and vice versa.

Another thing that was difficult for me with the book was the many different names of weapons and helicopters. For example, one of the bad people had a "Px4 Storm Type F Sub-compact Beretta". That doesn't tell me anything, except that I know a Beretta is a type of gun. Neither do I know what an AK-74 or an M-11 is.

But what it does tell me is that the author has great knowledge about firearms and weapons. The author also has a BS in Biology and it does show in the book. It all seems so realistic.
I think Pandora's Succession is a very good book. Well written and with a high speed and a lot of action. I never got bored reading the book. It was difficult to stop reading once you started. All you wanted to do was to read a few more pages and then a few more pages after that to find out whether Fox would survive the dangerous situation or not.

I highly recommend the book for readers who love thrillers and as me, novels about biological weapons, diseases and similar. But at last I need to put in a word of caution: The book contains some very graphic description of what happens to the human body when it is attacked by the virus and how the body looks afterwards. So sensitive readers might want to be prepared for that.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on November 2, 2010
When I first began the book, I thought it was going to be one of those that only guys would enjoy due to the military and weapons references. Once I got past the technicality of it all and actually paid attention to the story line, I was hooked.

The detail Russell gives to the descriptions of weapons and modes of military transportation will help detail the story in the mind of a person who is familiar with such things. But, for people like me who have no idea what a UH-60 Blackhawk or a D-W73 Cold War era Russian Air Force Officer's Dagger look like, the details tend to be a little much. However, the fight scenes were extremely realistic and that is due, in part, to the details given about the weapons.

As far as the plot is concerned, it was thrilling and intriguing. It kept you in a state of suspension from beginning to end. One thing I do, while reading a story, is to picture the book as a movie in my mind. At the end of each chapter, I pretend that is where the movie would pause for a commercial. Some stories fail to end with a cliff hanger at the end of each chapter, but not this one. I can say that at the end of each and every chapter, if a commercial were to come on at that time or if you stopped reading for the night at that spot, you couldn't wait to get back to it and see what happens next. I think this skill is one that not every author can accomplish. Russell Brooks has definitely mastered this skill.

One thing I did wish for was that it took a little longer revealing the mastermind behind it all. I would've enjoyed a little more suspense in that area of the story. Other than that, I really liked this novel. And, I'd like to say 'Thank You' to Russell for putting the Epilogue at the end. It helped to tie up some loose ends. Without it, a reader would be left wondering if a sequel was in the making.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 26, 2012
Super stuff--think Bond, James Bond. Russians, chemical warfare, egos the size of a large country, psychotic maniacs, and a CIA agent who gives as good as he gets (and then some) are just part of what makes this a great thriller.

Ridley Fox is the CIA agent--raw and vengeful after the murder of his fiancée by an outfit which has managed to get hold of a powerful and devastating microbe--who finds himself in a race to get hold of it before it gets into the hands of crazed and delusional madmen/women. No one is who they appear to be, and those most obsessed to gain possession of the deadly microbe are intent to either gain financially or powerfully--or both. The chase takes Ridley from Russia to Tokyo, where he finally meets up with a former female colleague, Nita Parris. Despite her rancour at being stood up by him a few years previously (with very disturbing consequences), together they do their best to prevent power-crazed individuals from wiping out the human race.

Brooks is a good storyteller. This is the second book I've read by him--I enjoyed Chill Run very much. He sets it well, he tells it well--his action scenes translate into brilliant imagery. In fact the whole book played as a movie in my mind. It focussed on action and the thrill in `thriller', and I was glad it didn't concentrate too much on the obviously electric attraction between Ridley and Parris. What wasn't said spoke volumes.

I'm certainly a fan and look forward to this author's next novel.

I received a complimentary copy of this book in order to review it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on October 23, 2010
Do you enjoy reading non-stop action? Then Pandora's Succession is definitely the book for you, as it was for me. Russell Brooks had me on the edge of my seat wondering how in the world the main character, Ridley Fox, was going to stop the bio-weapon, Pandora, from being spread and ending human existence, as we know it. This book was riddled with moles, spies, evil scientists, and ninjas, to keep you wondering just who the good guys were.

The plot was fantastically written. The interaction between characters allowed you to see that we were leading up to world destruction with little time to stop it. Detailed actions made me feel as if I were watching fight scenes play out before my eyes, even with little knowledge of combat assaults and weapons.

The characters themselves were well-developed, not too much detail, but just enough to feel as if you know them (I'm glad I don't know some of them!). I found myself rooting for Fox throughout the entire book. Others had their secrets revealed and took me for a 360 spin.

I'm going to admit it now, I love action movies, such as "Bourne Identity", but I've never really read one. This was my first and I was absolutely strapped in for the ride of my life! I look forward to more roller-coaster rides from Russell Brooks!

Lou Rohde of Reader Recommended
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on April 14, 2013
I am not finished reading this drivel and already I cannot go on. With all due respect, the author needs to find another line of work. Poorly written, simplistic story line, horrific character development and no plot to speak of. While I am reticent to borrow other reviews, I do concur that a grade school child could do a better writing job than the work demonstrated in this "book." The protagonist is somehow suffering the effects of the death of his fiancé and embarks on a mission to bring the perps to justice ostensibly by either killing them literally or using his allegedly droll sense of humor to force them to commit suicide rather than listen to him.

I confess I fell for the good reviews obviously written by family and friends reluctant to tell the author that his day job was his to keep and to leave writing to those capable of doing so. To compare this work to the authors noted in some of the reviews diminishes those author's talent without escalating the lack of talent reflected in this work. Mr. Brooks apparently has read his fill of similar genre and mistakenly believed he had the ability to duplicate it. He is wrong in that regard and I wish him well in other endeavors.
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