"The Linguist", Mark Urban, 1998, 0-7472-5471-0
%A Mark Urban
%C 338 Euston Road, London NW1 3BH England
%I Hodder and Stoughton/Headline
%O +44(0)1235400414 fax: +44(0)1235400454 orders@...
%P 342 p.
%T "The Linguist"
Urban's work is very nicely written. Very readable, nicely tense for
a thriller, and with a satisfactorily happy ending. His American
characters do tend to use British vernacular, but at least they don't
sound as caricaturish as those in many other works by British authors.
His technical grasp is excellent. The central technology of the piece
involves the tapping of a fibre optic cable. We aren't given too many
details of the device that is created, but the concerns are generally
reasonable. Actually, while most people would agree with the author
that fibre is supposed to be inherently secure, there are at least two
means of tapping a cable with no disruption and minimal signal loss,
so the premise is realistic as well. Appropriately, the most
difficult part of the operation is finding a way to deal with the
masses of information.
It is his use of cellular telephones, though, that is most
interesting. Advanced functions available to users of modern
cellphones is used to fullest advantage. The plot turns don't rely on
anyone being completely unaware of the technology: at one point some
simple trace attempts are made, but the phone user has already taken
precautions. The basics of the system are well understood by the
author, even down to the fact that cellphones can be traced any time
they are on, regardless of whether a call is in progress.
A readable book with intelligent use of technology. How curiously
copyright Robert M. Slade, 2000 BKLNGUST.RVW 20000330
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Being in politics is like being a football coach. You have to be
smart enough to understand the game and dumb enough to think it's