Children’s author takes aim at adult readers
Spychip Armageddon, by Raymond Perkins, illustrated by Stephanie Perkins, 400 pages. Available from Amazon. $12.95 in paperback, $2.99 on Kindle.
reviewed by Chris Braithwaite
If the kids in your family are fans of Raymond Perkins’ books like The Mystery of the Silver Statue or The Mystery of the Brick Kingdom, don’t buy them a copy of his latest novel, Spychip Armageddon. But if you’re looking for some personal relief from the COVID blues, buy a copy for yourself.
Mr. Perkins, a retired teacher who lives in Derby, has produced an adult thriller with all the necessary elements of the genre, and a couple of pleasant surprises. In a tradition that goes all the way back to Ian Fleming’s Dr. No, Mr. Perkins gives us the evil genius hell bent on world domination. In Spychip Armageddon it’s a shadowy international cabal called NOW that is about to use unheard-of technology to do unthinkable things to the minds of unsuspecting citizens. Indeed Mr. Perkins pays explicit homage to the thriller tradition when he has one character tell another, “What I’m about to tell you will probably sound like something out of a James Patterson novel.”
Oddly though, the character who says that, Skye LaPointe, is the major point of departure from the traditions of the genre. She’s the wife of Mr. Perkins’ protagonist, Jack LaPointe, but she doesn’t sit home wringing her hands while he takes on the forces of evil. She’s right there beside him, or at most a step behind him, taking her share of the risk and more than her share of physical abuse. She is of course very pretty, “with a perfectly shaped, slightly oval face and a body to absolutely die for.” But she is also tough, feisty, and occasionally pretty funny.
For his part, Jack is far too devoted to Skye to waste his time seducing the usual array of wicked-but-shapely female spies and counter-spies that decorate the novel. He’s a former Army Ranger who knows how to handle himself in a fight. But he’s no 007 behind the wheel of an armored Aston Martin. He’s a Hyundai-driving mid-level bureaucrat in the Department of Homeland Security, based in northwestern Vermont. And he’s only drawn into the book’s dark conspiracy by his loyalty to a co-worker, who learns of NOW’s plot to take over the world through a carelessly misdirected e-mail.
The good news, for fans of Mr. Perkins, is that he continues to locate his imagined adventures in real and familiar places. Though it wanders from the West Indies to an island off the coast of Alaska, the action finally comes home to the Northeast Kingdom. Jack and Skye face down their exotic enemies in a remote cabin near the Canadian border in Holland, on an island in Lake Memphremagog and, finally, at the old radar station in East Haven.
All in all, in terms of both genre and location, Spychip Armageddon is a mix of the familiar and the unexpected that should keep you turning its pages all the way to its quite satisfying end.
“Emily. What I’m about to tell you will probably sound like something out of a James Patterson novel.” She paused. “Anyway, here goes.”