By Mark Combs
Title: The Great Game
Author: D. R. Bell
Series or Standalone: Standalone
After years of patient preparation, a block of countries led by China and Russia stages an overnight financial coup to unseat the US dollar as the world’s reserve currency. Fortunes are made and lost in a matter of hours. But some have more far-ranging plans than financial gain.
Computer engineer David Ferguson has no idea that a chance meeting with a friendly stranger in the airport will change everything. Suddenly, he is running for his life, without knowing why or from whom. In trying to evade his pursuers, David accidentally involves Maggie Sappin, a graduate student and a transplant from Kiev. To save themselves, they have to uncover the reasons behind a financial crisis and political upheaval that followed. From Los Angeles to Texas, Kiev, Moscow, and New York, the body count mounts along with the layers of deception as two innocent people become key players in—The Great Game.
This is a work of fiction. But what are presented in the story as facts of the time of writing are indeed facts in real life. And if some elements look hard to imagine, back in the early 1980s one would have been laughed at for suggesting that in a few short years people would be dancing on top of the Berlin Wall and the Soviet Union would be no longer.
As an ardent reader and reviewer, I don’t like to read the synopsis of a book before I read it. I much prefer to delve into a book without any preconceived notions. Therefore, I had no idea what to expect when I opened this book. What started as a run-of-the-mill action novel quickly morphed into an international geo-economic thriller.
The author did a masterful job of weaving real-world events, political theories, and economic theories into a fictional story that, on the surface, was a solid thriller. However, the author also presents an all-too-real scenario in the near future (2022) in which the United States is crumbling politically and economically due to its poor economic choices and policies.
As engaging as the story was, I felt that the main characters, David Ferguson and Maggie Sappin, were underdeveloped to the point of feeling like they were made of cardboard. It was obvious from their first meeting that they would end up together, despite their initial mistrust of one another. Also, some of the dialogue had a stilted, formal feel, rather than a conversational feel. Finally, there were some editing issues – nothing major – but enough to be distracting.
Bottom line: The Great Game, despite a few flaws, is a solid, thought-provoking book that paints a disturbing picture of what possibly lies ahead for the United States, a country wracked by political in-fighting and negligent overspending.