The Bottom Line: An imaginative and timely spy thriller that explores how a powerful AI platform could push the planet into a third world war.
Xavier Wallace’s Shaw Reclamation begins as former Australian Intelligence Service (AIS) Agent Max ‘Prince’ Shaw is awaiting trial at the International Criminal Court. What’s the charge, you might ask? Oh, just torture, war crimes, murder and the assassination of two world leaders.
Shaw has been held at Scheveningen Prison for over four months. In addition to the seemingly insurmountable charges leveled against him, he’s understandably upset about being separated from partner Blake ‘Hermes’ Smyth, who also happens to be the Head of AIS. Blake was shot as the pair was walking down a Washington D.C. street, leaving Max helpless as the love of his life was taken from the scene.
The book’s first action scene – involving a couple of Russians in the Hague who have “a message” from their homeland – goes down like a can of red bull. Wallace doesn’t linger on action scenes for long, preferring instead to advance the plot with passages of incisive dialogue and fascinating descriptions of threats posed by a terrifying technology platform.
Kudos to Wallace for dreaming up Apollo, “the librarian of Alexandria 2.0.” Inspired by the legend of the ancient Library of Alexandria, the AI-powered platform exists to “build, collate and catalog the greatest archive on Earth.” Or does it?
It’s soon clear that Apollo is far more than it seems. Its first mission? To attack telecommunication systems. As Max gradually learns more about Apollo’s larger mission, which has major implications for global intelligence and more, Wallace takes his hero and a cast of surrounding characters on a satisfying globetrotting itinerary that includes Moscow, Paris and Brussels.
While Shaw Reclamation is the fifth book in the series, it can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel.