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Scorpion

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*PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY FOR AN UNFORGETTABLE, GRIPPING CAT-AND-MOUSE THRILLER, FOR FANS OF MINORITY REPORT AND BLAKE CROUCH* Around the world, twenty-two people have been murdered. The victims fit no profile, the circumstances vary wildly, but one thing links them all: in every case the victim is branded with a number. With police around the globe floundering and unable t *PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY FOR AN UNFORGETTABLE, GRIPPING CAT-AND-MOUSE THRILLER, FOR FANS OF MINORITY REPORT AND BLAKE CROUCH* Around the world, twenty-two people have been murdered. The victims fit no profile, the circumstances vary wildly, but one thing links them all: in every case the victim is branded with a number. With police around the globe floundering and unable to identify any pattern, let alone find a killer, CIA Analyst Quinn Mitchell is called in to investigate. Before long, Quinn is on the trail of an ice-hearted assassin with seemingly limitless resources - but she's prepared for that. What she isn't prepared for is the person pulling the strings...


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*PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY FOR AN UNFORGETTABLE, GRIPPING CAT-AND-MOUSE THRILLER, FOR FANS OF MINORITY REPORT AND BLAKE CROUCH* Around the world, twenty-two people have been murdered. The victims fit no profile, the circumstances vary wildly, but one thing links them all: in every case the victim is branded with a number. With police around the globe floundering and unable t *PRE-ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY FOR AN UNFORGETTABLE, GRIPPING CAT-AND-MOUSE THRILLER, FOR FANS OF MINORITY REPORT AND BLAKE CROUCH* Around the world, twenty-two people have been murdered. The victims fit no profile, the circumstances vary wildly, but one thing links them all: in every case the victim is branded with a number. With police around the globe floundering and unable to identify any pattern, let alone find a killer, CIA Analyst Quinn Mitchell is called in to investigate. Before long, Quinn is on the trail of an ice-hearted assassin with seemingly limitless resources - but she's prepared for that. What she isn't prepared for is the person pulling the strings...

30 review for Scorpion

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ceecee

    This is a techno thriller with liberal sprinklings of science, especially physics and it’s most certainly jargon driven. The storyline has multiple threads which involves nuclear attacks, a serial killer, coding, crypto currency and of that isn’t enough there’s a sci-fi element involving time travel. It’s busy! The central characters are Quinn Mitchell, a smart CIA analyst previously working on the Nuclear Terrorism Non-Proliferation Task Force and now out from behind her desk tasked with tracki This is a techno thriller with liberal sprinklings of science, especially physics and it’s most certainly jargon driven. The storyline has multiple threads which involves nuclear attacks, a serial killer, coding, crypto currency and of that isn’t enough there’s a sci-fi element involving time travel. It’s busy! The central characters are Quinn Mitchell, a smart CIA analyst previously working on the Nuclear Terrorism Non-Proliferation Task Force and now out from behind her desk tasked with tracking down the Elite Assassin, a serial killer with 19 victims so far. There’s Ranveer, an Iranian who travels and stays in luxury and finally Henrietta Yi, a double PhD physicist originally from Korea and working on an ultra secret CIA project. The complex novel brings these three together in an action packed plot. First of all, the characters are good, they have a lot of potential but because the plot is so crowded they are not as developed as they could be. I want more on all three as their backgrounds are interesting. The first two thirds whilst it’s not always easy to follow you can appreciate where it’s going and once that is resolved the last third becomes rushed and seems to me to be setting the scene for a follow up. I find this section particularly confusing and don’t ask me about the science because I couldn’t tell you! Head, over top of! Whilst Quinn is undoubtably a sharp cookie, really? An analyst suddenly put to the field on her own to track a serial killer??? Absolutely not. Then there’s a scene where she cries when questioning a potential witness. Again - really?? It just does not ring true and I have a hard time buying that, despite liking her character. For me, the biggest problem is the jargon and the over-detailing which gets in the way of what is undoubtedly a clever plot. A bit too clever???? It just ends up becoming too much for me and muddled. Or is that me? Overall, the premise is excellent but the storytelling needs refining so it becomes a cohesive whole. With thanks to NetGalley and Penguin Michael Joseph for the arc in return for an honest review.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Shaun Hutchinson

    I don't generally give ratings on books, but I also rarely dislike books as much as I disliked this one. This seems like it should've been right in my sweet spot. It's a near-future thriller about a CIA analyst grieving the loss of her daughter and breakup of her marriage who's tasked with hunting down a serial killer. For the most part, the plot was just interesting enough to keep me turning the pages. The problem is that the book shifts gears after about 2/3 of the way through, and the resolut I don't generally give ratings on books, but I also rarely dislike books as much as I disliked this one. This seems like it should've been right in my sweet spot. It's a near-future thriller about a CIA analyst grieving the loss of her daughter and breakup of her marriage who's tasked with hunting down a serial killer. For the most part, the plot was just interesting enough to keep me turning the pages. The problem is that the book shifts gears after about 2/3 of the way through, and the resolution is absolute nonsense. I'm absolutely baffled at how Kirkus and PW gave this book a starred review. The book attempts to blend genres but can't seem to figure out how. It's so unsatisfying on every level. If this was the first of a series, I could maybe see how the ending works, but as far as I can tell, this book is meant to stand alone. Beyond just the plot, I found the writing bad. The first half of the book, the writing is stodgy, with the author avoiding contractions everywhere but in dialogue. And the use of present tense is so out of place here. Present tense, when done well, can be amazing. It was not done well here. It was basically past tense with the tenses changed. If it'd just been the plot and writing that bothered me, I would've just let it go and moved on, but the list of things that pissed me off about this book were long. Here are a few things I hated: *Women preoccupied with their own breasts *We meet two gay characters one is (view spoiler)[murdered, (hide spoiler)] the other is a sassy caricature. I'm shocked the character didn't break out jazz hands. *We meet a Japanese adult woman who is immediately described as a little girl obsessed with Pokemon who simultaneously has multiple PhDs in physics. The way this character is infantilized is seriously gross. *Use of the term "wife-beater" to describe a shirt when there are plenty of perfectly inoffensive ways to describe the shirt. *SO MANY offensive racial and ethnic stereotypes. It was painful. The only reason I gave it two stars was because there were glimmers of an interesting plot in there. But there are way better books in this vein to read. I'm sure there's an audience for this book, but I'm not it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Bradley

    This is a fairly interesting techno-thriller filled with echoes of Minority Report, Alias, and a long line of other modern spycraft/cop dramas. I expect that a lot of people will enjoy it for what it is: tech and geek driven; game-friendly, cryptocurrency-friendly, and, when we get to it, the joys of one of the oldest SF tropes which I won't mention here because it's spoilery and late-game in the novel. That being said, it was fun for the ride even if it never absolutely blew me away. Little thin This is a fairly interesting techno-thriller filled with echoes of Minority Report, Alias, and a long line of other modern spycraft/cop dramas. I expect that a lot of people will enjoy it for what it is: tech and geek driven; game-friendly, cryptocurrency-friendly, and, when we get to it, the joys of one of the oldest SF tropes which I won't mention here because it's spoilery and late-game in the novel. That being said, it was fun for the ride even if it never absolutely blew me away. Little things did get on my nerves, for example, such as a desk-jockey getting into the field with relatively little supervision, but that didn't bother me so much because the entire genre seems to be rife with it. Regardless, it did seem to be on par, with more empahasis on all our modern obsessions. :) Definitely worth the read.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Louise Wilson

    Around the world, twenty two people have been murdered, The victims fit no profile, the circumstances vary wildly, but one thing links them all: in every case the victim is branded with a number. With police all around the globe floundering and unable to identify any pattern, let alone find the killer, CIA Analyst Quinn Mitchell is called in to investigate. I quite liked this book. This sci-fi thriller is set in the near future. The book starts off with CIA Analyst Quinn Mitchell hunting down a s Around the world, twenty two people have been murdered, The victims fit no profile, the circumstances vary wildly, but one thing links them all: in every case the victim is branded with a number. With police all around the globe floundering and unable to identify any pattern, let alone find the killer, CIA Analyst Quinn Mitchell is called in to investigate. I quite liked this book. This sci-fi thriller is set in the near future. The book starts off with CIA Analyst Quinn Mitchell hunting down a serial killer, but a twist in the book takes an unforeseeable turn. The characters are complex with motives that are never completely explained. The pace is steady and the second half is action packed. It's quite hard to review this book without giving away any spoilers. There's plenty of twists, but some were predictable. This is a fascinating read. I would like to thank #NetGalley #PenguinMichaelJoseph and the author #ChristianCantrell for my ARC of #Scorpion in exchange for an honest review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lou

    Scorpion is a riveting, exhilarating and rollicking science-fiction thriller set in the near future in which a mysterious serial killer keeps the world in suspense because the only trace is the strange numbers he leaves on the bodies of his victims. Quinn Mitchell is a nine-to-five spy—an intelligence analyst for the CIA during the day, and a suburban wife and mother on evenings and weekends. After her young daughter is killed in a tragic accident, sending her life into a tailspin, Quinn hopes t Scorpion is a riveting, exhilarating and rollicking science-fiction thriller set in the near future in which a mysterious serial killer keeps the world in suspense because the only trace is the strange numbers he leaves on the bodies of his victims. Quinn Mitchell is a nine-to-five spy—an intelligence analyst for the CIA during the day, and a suburban wife and mother on evenings and weekends. After her young daughter is killed in a tragic accident, sending her life into a tailspin, Quinn hopes to find a new start in her latest assignment: investigating a series of bizarre international assassinations whose victims have been found with numeric codes tattooed, burned, or carved into their flesh. As Quinn follows the killer’s trail across the globe, always one body behind, she begins uncovering disturbing connections between the murders and herself.  Every lead she tracks down in pursuit of the assassin brings Quinn one step closer to the Epoch Index, a mysterious encrypted message discovered in the archives of the Large Hadron Collider. Its origins are unknown and decrypting it is beyond even the CIA. Yet nothing else can possibly link together a slew of unsolvable murders, an enigmatic and sophisticated serial killer who always seems to be three steps ahead, a quirky young physics prodigy whose knowledge extends well beyond her years, and, underlying everything, the inescapable tragedy of Quinn’s own past. Discovering the meaning of the Epoch Index leads Quinn to a shocking twist that shatters everything she thought she knew about the past, the future, and the delicate balance of right and wrong that she must now fight to preserve. This is a high octane, rapid-fire, all action-adventure thriller full of twists, high specification weaponry, double-crosses and a heart-stopping chase for an erudite assassin. What sets this apart from other espionage-based reads is that it is set in near future when new high tech gadgetry and weapons have appeared on the scene with new capabilities giving those on the intelligence scene a range of options to help them in their endeavours and made fully authentic by Cantrell’s employment as a software engineer. There's never a dull moment, and I found the pretty seamless fusing of sci-fi and spy worlds to work exceptionally well. It quickly becomes a fun, addictive and entertaining ride full of intelligently woven dialogue, scalpel-sharp observations and a compelling and intriguing cast of characters. Highly recommended.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Lou Jacobs

    Stop and think awhile…. Anyone with ingenuity can kill almost anyone else in dozens of different ways with either an immediately available implement, such as a pencil, heavy object or even a coffee cup…. or with a myriad of actual weapons, such as knives, guns, poisons …. or even a push or trip, all before your brain can register the threat. “Scorpion” is an immersive near-future thriller involving the CIA’s attempt to apprehend a serial killer who has slaughtered nineteen victims across the glo Stop and think awhile…. Anyone with ingenuity can kill almost anyone else in dozens of different ways with either an immediately available implement, such as a pencil, heavy object or even a coffee cup…. or with a myriad of actual weapons, such as knives, guns, poisons …. or even a push or trip, all before your brain can register the threat. “Scorpion” is an immersive near-future thriller involving the CIA’s attempt to apprehend a serial killer who has slaughtered nineteen victims across the globe, without apparent motive or linkage in the victims. He has dispatched them all in various methods with extreme ingenuity and cunning …. and occasionally with a simple shove off a roof or a throat slit with reckless abandon. He continues to methodically kill in unique ways across the globe. Cantrell weaves a masterful narrative, while intersecting three main characters …. CIA analyst, Quinn Mitchell … physicist extraordinaire, Henrietta Yi …. And the international serial killer, known as the Elite Assassin (eventually revealed as the Iranian born, Ranver). As their life experiences unfold, along with their resultant motivations, they intersect and collide with explosive revelations. Quinn Mitchell is a much heralded senior data analyst, just completing a stint on the Nuclear Terrorism Nonproliferation Task Force. Which was initiated as a response to the heinous nuclear attack on Seoul, Korea six years previous. The goal being the safety and security of the United States and its allies. Inexplicably she is assigned the task of going from her comfortable cubicle out into the field to chase and investigate the Elite Assassin by using her analytical prowess. Unfortunately she brings with her extensive emotional baggage. After her four year old daughter, Molly drowned in a neighbor’s pool her life unravelled. Neither her husband or herself could stop blaming themselves and eventually each other leading to the dissolution of the marriage. With almost reckless abandon, she poured over extensive data using the CIA’S Structured Interactive Query Interface, hoping for a lead. Although there was no obvious correlation or pattern between the victims, the killer left on all, a four digit number, carved, branded or indelibly imprinted somewhere on all the bodies. Her investigation takes her to Sohar, Oman, where she quickly realizes how much she is over her head. Somewhere there has to be a motive. She is nudged into reality, that she has to “follow the money” if she hopes to catch the assassin before his next kill. Henrietta Yi is a rather diminutive five foot tall Korean, who on first sight appears to be a K-pop fangirl…. however she possesses two PhDs in physics.. in both quantum and particle, and yet has a Pokemon fetish. Both of her parents perished in the nuclear attack on Seoul. Which might explain why a brilliant and promising young physicist would forgo the fortune from the private sector to devote her life to the “mission” of the CIA. Her work at the Large Hadron Collider (actually the largest machine in the world and highest-energy particle collider in existence) has borne fruit. Using AI, she trained neural networks to identify anomalous data. Amongst the plethora of data, an encrypted message was encountered …. deemed the Epoch Index it was claimed to be a packet of information from the future. Reportedly the source of an ongoing top secret project. The significance and intent of the Epoch Index is instrumental in the motivation of our protagonists. And, lastly there is Ranver, the Elite Assassin…. physically a tall, slender specimen with a swarthy complexion and a distinct and fitting mustache, and black eyes which can portray both congeniality and malice simultaneously. Born in Iran, and initially raised as a Hindu, but now espouses no organized religion. His early years were forged by the Military Intelligence of Iran, against his father’s wishes. He now travels the globe in luxury, from jets to luxurious penthouse hotels, provided with personal concierge service everywhere. His agenda remains clouded in mystery, but his lethality is known by all international police organizations. His weaponry remains sophisticated and high tech, procured by clandestine methods. Cantrell expertly weaves a complex narrative in which our three protagonists unexpectedly intersect and collide with multiple reveals utilizing carefully crafted prose and layered multi-dimensional characterization, escalating slowly in suspense and tension and culminating in an explosive and satisfying denouement. Cantrell incorporates science and possible cutting edge technology to keep the reader fully engaged in his cinematic narrative. Multiple themes are explored, not only murder, but the painful and ever present grief from the loss of your child, as well as love and friendship. Also considered is the possibility of disinformation campaigns. With the ability of manufacturing whatever reality that those in power find convenient, and thus eradicating the truth. But, more importantly, never lose sight of the importance of those you love and hold in friendship. Overall, this is a riveting techno thriller utilizing near future technology resulting in a compelling page turner. A follow up novel featuring our three protagonists would definitely be a welcome addition to the oeuvre of Christian Cantrell. Thanks to NetGalley and Random House Publishing for providing an Uncorrected Proof in exchange for an honest review. This Review was published at Mystery and Suspense Magazine

  7. 5 out of 5

    Liz Barnsley

    I really enjoyed Scorpion - a techno thriller with time travel elements plus a serial killer- it was great fun and plays out movie style with enough scifi geekery keeping it interesting and a group of characters who run around trying to sort out an ever evolving set of problems and all of whom have various agendas. Speculative and randomly complex the plot fairly rocks along although action is more low key, this being a more cerebral thriller in a techno babble kind of way. The ending suggests mo I really enjoyed Scorpion - a techno thriller with time travel elements plus a serial killer- it was great fun and plays out movie style with enough scifi geekery keeping it interesting and a group of characters who run around trying to sort out an ever evolving set of problems and all of whom have various agendas. Speculative and randomly complex the plot fairly rocks along although action is more low key, this being a more cerebral thriller in a techno babble kind of way. The ending suggests more to come. I liked the twisty sense of this so I'll happily come along for the ride.

  8. 5 out of 5

    JasonA

    I guess you'd call this a techno thriller, even though it was a little short on thrills. Quinn Mitchell is a CIA analyst who's tasked with tracking down an international serial killer. Her superpowers are that she's good with computers, is less likeable than a serial killer, and cries constantly without getting dehydrated. Seriously, she cries every other chapter. A couple of times the tears are warranted, but they lose all effect after all the times she cried because she got yelled at or she fe I guess you'd call this a techno thriller, even though it was a little short on thrills. Quinn Mitchell is a CIA analyst who's tasked with tracking down an international serial killer. Her superpowers are that she's good with computers, is less likeable than a serial killer, and cries constantly without getting dehydrated. Seriously, she cries every other chapter. A couple of times the tears are warranted, but they lose all effect after all the times she cried because she got yelled at or she felt fat or she got yelled at. Also, not sure I see the logic of sending a computer geek after a ruthless serial killer without any kind of backup. I'm pretty sure her boss couldn't fire her and was just trying to get her killed. There's also a whole lot of bad time travel stuff going on in this book. There are some pretty major paradoxes happening that will really give you a headache if you think about them too hard. It basically amounts to sending a message back in time to kill baby Hitler. Now Hitler is dead and you avoid World War 2, but you still have to send the message back in time to kill baby Hitler, but since Hitler never grew up, you're taking the original message's word for it that Hitler is bad and not just someone who insulted the original sender's mom in a game of Call of Duty. Of course, the original sender has a foolproof way of authenticating the message by including something that only the younger version of themselves know about. Oh, and anyone else that read the message knows about it now too and can use it in a future message. I assume that the author is planning on this being a series (or they just hate tying up loose ends), but I'll be skipping any future books.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Meredith Mara

    This sci-fi thriller is a veritable (and truly magnificent) puzzle box of plot stings and twists, and I cannot recommend this book enough. Ask me to name an underrated author? Christian Cantrell. If you love Black Crouch — you’re going to love Cantell. His newest thriller Scorpion hooks from page one, snapping tension into place and holding it taut until the very end. The suspense won’t give you a heart attack, but only just. Scorpion is set in a near-future rife with technological advances. Read This sci-fi thriller is a veritable (and truly magnificent) puzzle box of plot stings and twists, and I cannot recommend this book enough. Ask me to name an underrated author? Christian Cantrell. If you love Black Crouch — you’re going to love Cantell. His newest thriller Scorpion hooks from page one, snapping tension into place and holding it taut until the very end. The suspense won’t give you a heart attack, but only just. Scorpion is set in a near-future rife with technological advances. Readers quickly find their feet as much of the world looks and feels like our own, and the technology steers clear of anything outlandish. There’s more than one plot string unfolding at once, and I will give you the (spoiler-free) rundown here as succinctly as possible: Quinn Mitchell is an analyst for the CIA. Not just any analyst, she’s the best CIA Deputy Director Townes has got — although she’s never recovered from the accidental death of her daughter or the splintering of her marriage from a CIA field agent. Henrietta Yi is a brilliant (one-in-a-billion) physicist. Driven by her father’s death in a nuclear attack, she is now working for the CIA (also under Deputy Director Townes) on a top (top!) secret project. What is she doing that could be more important than preventing the next nuclear attack? Attempting to decode messages that appear to have come from the future. Yes, the future. This is a SF thriller, bookies, and one of the best I’ve read. Right up there with Blake Crouch’s Recursion. Okay, final plot string: Ranveer is an assassin (aka the Elite Assassin) who enjoys the good life (swanky hotel suits, fancy cars, and private air travel) and marks his victims with (maddeningly random-seeming) four-digit numbers. CIA analyst Quinn Mitchell is tasked with finding a pattern in the Elite Assassin’s seeming madness. How Henrietta Yi is connected, we don’t yet know. Even Quinn Mitchell does not have the clearance. But it will all come together, and oh, how your MIND WILL BE BLOWN. The characters here are complex. Quinn. Ranveer. Henrietta. They’ve all got their story arcs and come with layers of backstory. Neither of the three is on the page to serve the story’s forward motion as a mere plot device. Instead, they drive the action of the thriller with choices that feel at every point genuine and true to their natures. And, oh, how it elevates this suspense read to something truly spectacular. Scorpion is going up there among my list of five-star reads and must-read books of 2021. Bonus: heart-stopping plot twists; time travel (bookies, you know I’m a goner for anything time travel); technology that will make the hearts of physics nerds soar, yet is so flawlessly woven into the narrative that your high-school transcripts don’t need to boast AP physics to massively enjoy what’s happening on the page.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alayne Emmett

    I enjoyed this book as it was a little different to some of the books I’ve read recently. This made a refreshing change. The story was well written and kept me interested all the way through. My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers for giving me the opportunity to read this book in return for an honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Elaine

    Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of Scorpion. I've never read any of this author's books before but the premise sounded thrilling so I was excited when my request was approved. ** Minor spoilers ahead ** The premise is intriguing; a skillful data analyst, Quinn, is tasked with locating an assassin who is targeting victims that are not associated with one another. At the same time, a brilliant scientist, Henrietta, is on the verge of a scientific breakthrough that will affect her, Quinn and t Thank you to NetGalley for an ARC of Scorpion. I've never read any of this author's books before but the premise sounded thrilling so I was excited when my request was approved. ** Minor spoilers ahead ** The premise is intriguing; a skillful data analyst, Quinn, is tasked with locating an assassin who is targeting victims that are not associated with one another. At the same time, a brilliant scientist, Henrietta, is on the verge of a scientific breakthrough that will affect her, Quinn and the assassin's lives in ways she could not have imagined. Or did she already? I love mysteries and thrillers but Scorpion is a techno thriller. It's filled with sci-fi jargon, metaphysics, complicated jargon and language of a futuristic world. It makes up 95% of the narrative. Character development is decent overall but poor for Quinn. She's still grieving the loss of her only child in a tragic accident and the end of her marriage. She's dedicated and good at her job, but there were certain traits about her that was stereotypically cliche , sexist and offensive. There was a scene where she's trying to glean information about the assassin from a suspect and when she fails in her interrogation, Quinn cries. Seriously. A middle-aged woman crying in front of a potential informant. She's been working in the CIA for years and she hasn't grown a thick skin? She has no idea how to really look for the assassin and the informant needs to give her guidance. Seriously. I understand she's a pencil pusher, she's always say behind her desk, but come on! I lost respect for her at that point, but not her fault. It's the author's fault for not getting me to like Quinn, or, at least, admire her for her tech-y talents. That leads me to another issue I had with Quinn being tasked to track the assassin. She's given no guidance or direction from her superior. She uses all the tech at her disposal and processes gajillions of meta data to locate this elusive individual but no one instructs her on what to look for. She has to flounder and fumble and bumble her way through the process; she's a office bee, not a field agent. She doesn't ask anyone for help nor is anyone tasked to assist her? I found this very hard to believe. The twist in how Quinn and the assassin are connected is a small part of the narrative and one I guessed early on in the story. The rest of the narrative about the fancy schmancy gadgets the world is connected to, what the feds use to track everyone and everything, science mumbo jumbo, multiverse mumbo jumbo, cryptocurrency, the clever ways an elite assassin dispatches his victims, the high life he enjoys, the hopscotching across the world he and Quinn partake in chasing one another or vice versa. I find time travel and the multiverse fascinating and if the story had just focused on that, I would have been more interested in the story. Scorpion was heavily focused on the technical details of science and technology with unnecessary long descriptions about each. It got so lengthy I sometimes forgot what the narrative was about. I don't like techno thrillers but it's okay to get out of your comfort zone sometimes. If you're looking for something different, give this a try but it wasn't for me.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Doreen

    6/1/2021 3.5 stars. Full review tk at TheFrumiousConsortium.net. 6/2/2021 What if Christopher Nolan's Tenet was less in love with itself and the magic of cinematography, and just decided to tell a more interesting story? That's basically what you have here with Christian Cantrell's Scorpion, as a CIA analyst discovers that a serial assassin she's been pursuing might have far stranger motivations than she'd ever dreamed. Quinn Mitchell is one of American intelligence's finest minds, but her persona 6/1/2021 3.5 stars. Full review tk at TheFrumiousConsortium.net. 6/2/2021 What if Christopher Nolan's Tenet was less in love with itself and the magic of cinematography, and just decided to tell a more interesting story? That's basically what you have here with Christian Cantrell's Scorpion, as a CIA analyst discovers that a serial assassin she's been pursuing might have far stranger motivations than she'd ever dreamed. Quinn Mitchell is one of American intelligence's finest minds, but her personal life has gone to hell. After the death of her young daughter and the subsequent implosion of her marriage, her entire life is devoted to work, seeking to protect the world from the nuclear terrorism that, in this novel, wiped out Seoul some years earlier. As is the way with government-funded agencies, her taskforce has become so successful that it's no longer deemed necessary. Thus Quinn is given a brand new assignment: analyze the data behind a string of bizarre murders worldwide, all differing in method and type of victim but linked by the presence of a 4-digit number marked on each corpse by the killer. In this she's aided by her new boss' main Tech Guy, the brilliant if complicated Henrietta Yi. Henrietta left academia after making a major discovery at the Large Hadron Collider, and joined the CIA out of a desire to use what she found to help prevent more of the disasters that claimed her parents' lives. But the more she learns about her boss' designs, the more she wants out, and soon she and Quinn are engaged in a deadly dance through time and space to do what each woman believes will save the world. This was kind of a weird book that I feel meant well, with great diversity and representation, yet came across to me as deeply unsympathetic to its main characters despite going through the motions of propping them up as Strong Female Characters. Quinn and Henrietta both lean heavily on the sociopathic end of the spectrum -- which I usually think makes for great reading! -- but Henrietta's story, at least, petered out in a way that felt more confusing than otherwise, especially since the bit about the tags in Quinn's breast after her cancer treatment was never fully explained. Despite having so many similar points of interest in common with the main characters -- motherhood! Pokemon collecting! being too smart for my own good! -- I felt like they were less fully rounded people than collections of quirks in a skin suit. A large part of this may be due to how rushed the ending chapters felt. I still don't understand Quinn's change of heart, and am hoping it's not just because she realized that she really hates her dad. Time travel narratives are always difficult tho, so if you like a bit of Day Of The Jackal hijinks thrown in to your sci-fi, with the romance levels dialed down to low, then you could do much worse than this intriguing genre mash-up. It's 100% better a use of your time than watching Tenet, anyway (which I had to do for Hugo voting this year, so thanks for nothing, fellow Hugo nominators.) Scorpion by Christian Cantrell was published May 25 2021 and is available from all good booksellers, including Bookshop!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Wendy

    I would desribe the book as Science Fiction Noir. Let's meet some characters: -Henryk "is bald, stocky, tatooed, and has a jaw that looks like it would shatter your fist long before it would succumb to dislocation or fracturing." "He also has a mouth of a sailor with a raging case of gonorrhea." And long drives make him, "stiff as a morning boner." -Kira "does not even bother dressing beyond underwear, a tank top, and her aviator-style metaspecs." Like all women, I am sure. ;) -Quinn "had a shape a I would desribe the book as Science Fiction Noir. Let's meet some characters: -Henryk "is bald, stocky, tatooed, and has a jaw that looks like it would shatter your fist long before it would succumb to dislocation or fracturing." "He also has a mouth of a sailor with a raging case of gonorrhea." And long drives make him, "stiff as a morning boner." -Kira "does not even bother dressing beyond underwear, a tank top, and her aviator-style metaspecs." Like all women, I am sure. ;) -Quinn "had a shape and perkiness to her that drew plenty of looks when she was out walking or bending down to scoop up a pile of leaves." I wasn't expecting literary fiction, but the writing style is cringe worthy. I stopped keeping track of the lines that made me roll my eyes after 70 pages, there were just too many. Even if you are just looking for a light, page-turning beach read, it does not deliver. The pacing of the story is off. The book is in parts along with the chapters, but it does not help with the flow. The ending is well set up for a sequel which I surely will NOT read. I wish I hadn't read this one.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Taylor

    A CIA analyst gets in on over her head when tasked to find the most prolific and mysterious murderer ever chased. But who is doing the hunting and who is the hunted? Really smart techno thriller with a time travel wrinkle that still has heart. So many great twists and scientifically interesting plot points! It’s hard not to spoil the novel so I’ll just give you this: you’ll never see the hits, and they just keep coming. Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for the widget and the chance A CIA analyst gets in on over her head when tasked to find the most prolific and mysterious murderer ever chased. But who is doing the hunting and who is the hunted? Really smart techno thriller with a time travel wrinkle that still has heart. So many great twists and scientifically interesting plot points! It’s hard not to spoil the novel so I’ll just give you this: you’ll never see the hits, and they just keep coming. Thank you to Netgalley and Penguin Random House for the widget and the chance to review this awesome book. These opinions are my own.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    Made it to 17% before realising my brain had stopped even trying to process the excessive and tedious geekery. Techno-thrillers should certainly have some techno in them, but they should also have thrills. And do top-class hotels really lay on beautiful female staff members for their male clients to paw, or is that simply a male fantasy? Even in the 1970s fantasies about bikini-clad long-haired beauties performing yoga for the titillation of rich men would have seemed a little passé. In 2021, it Made it to 17% before realising my brain had stopped even trying to process the excessive and tedious geekery. Techno-thrillers should certainly have some techno in them, but they should also have thrills. And do top-class hotels really lay on beautiful female staff members for their male clients to paw, or is that simply a male fantasy? Even in the 1970s fantasies about bikini-clad long-haired beauties performing yoga for the titillation of rich men would have seemed a little passé. In 2021, it makes me feel bilious...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Faith Hurst-Bilinski

    The Scorpion has a lot going on. I've never read this author before so I was not prepared for the level of detail written in to everything, especially all things technical. Still it was an intriguing story with a lot of moving parts. I was pulled in immediately by the idea of a killer who doesn't seem to have any rhyme nor reason to whom he kills or how he kills. Just a series of 4 numbers left on each body. The characters were not as well developed as they could have been and I kept thinking th The Scorpion has a lot going on. I've never read this author before so I was not prepared for the level of detail written in to everything, especially all things technical. Still it was an intriguing story with a lot of moving parts. I was pulled in immediately by the idea of a killer who doesn't seem to have any rhyme nor reason to whom he kills or how he kills. Just a series of 4 numbers left on each body. The characters were not as well developed as they could have been and I kept thinking that if I could get as much about most of the characters, with the exception of Quinn, as I do everything else this book would have been almost perfect. Even Quinn seemed underdeveloped. I thought this is what a Jonathan Maberry book would be without the personalities. And those are my favorite parts! If this is a book one then I can definitely read a book two, though.

  17. 4 out of 5

    James

    We know what we are, but not yet what we may be. (Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet: Act 4, scene 5.) Ophelia is going through a crisis in Shakespeare’s play. Her husband Hamlet has killed her father and she is cracking up. She knows only what she knows and is reacting to that, but she doesn’t know what the future holds for either of them. This is an entirely human feeling. Each of us reacts to events in the here and now; we can’t help it. But we also wonder where these events will eventually take We know what we are, but not yet what we may be. (Ophelia in Shakespeare’s Hamlet: Act 4, scene 5.) Ophelia is going through a crisis in Shakespeare’s play. Her husband Hamlet has killed her father and she is cracking up. She knows only what she knows and is reacting to that, but she doesn’t know what the future holds for either of them. This is an entirely human feeling. Each of us reacts to events in the here and now; we can’t help it. But we also wonder where these events will eventually take us. This quote from Ophelia forms the basis for the prologue of Scorpion, a mind-bending, jargon-heavy, but superbly entertaining and well written science fiction thriller from Christian Cantrell, a software engineer who lives near Washington, D.C. Quinn Mitchell is an analyst for the CIA, a desk jockey with little to no experience in the field. She has suffered a profound loss in her past, with the accidental drowning of her young daughter Molly, which resulted in the protracted separation and eventual divorce from her husband James. She is happy enough to stay out of the limelight and is very good at her job. However, her so-called easy life comes to a disturbing end when she is sent out into the field to track down and stop a man dubbed the Elite Assassin. All around the world, bodies are turning up — more than 20 of them, in fact — and there appears to be no apparent motive except that they are almost perfect killings. There is no rhyme to reason, but Al Moretti, Quinn’s boss, knows there’s more to these assassinations so Quinn must follow the trail of bodies that hopefully will lead to an arrest. Christian Cantrell identifies our assassin almost straight away. He is Ranveer, an Iranian national, with limitless resources and finance, and a steady supply of eccentric individuals who supply him with the knowledge and know-how to complete his killings. He travels first-class and stays at the most luxurious of hotels and resorts. He is a man with a mission, however horrendous it may first appear. He’s also on the clock. Leaving a trail of breadcrumbs only Quinn can find, there is method to his sociopathy. Quinn doesn’t know it yet, but there is a connection between the pair of them. In the mix is Henrietta Yi, a diminutive woman, originally from Korea, where terrorists set off a nuclear bomb that destroyed Seoul and killed millions of people including her parents. She has a visual impairment that causes her to wear special glasses, otherwise she sees afterimages, which she calls ‘ghosts’, all the time. This comes in handy later in the book. She is working on a top-secret project for Moretti based on data from something called The Epoch Index. And that’s all I’m going to tell you about the plot. But there is a connection between all three characters that doesn’t become apparent until the last third of Scorpion, the first two-thirds of which is taken up by a captivating and off-the-wall cat-and-mouse chase between Quinn and Ranveer. The setting is near-futurish, the technology is unique but not far-fetched, and I got particular delight from the author’s description of The Grid, an area of Qatar that is closed off to anyone without influence, money, or a really good reason to hide from the authorities. The climax is straight out of genre favourites like Looper and Minority Report, and while some of the techinical jargon may go over your head from time to time, the characters make the story relatable. You may know what you are, but not yet what you may be. My thanks go to NetGalley and the publishers of Scorpion for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Stacy DeBroff

    Welcome to an exceptionally well-written, tightly woven, fast-plotted, edge-of-your-seat, intellectual sci-fi techno, near-future thriller! Better still, Cantrell crafts three main characters, each at odd with the others, but each of whom you ultimately finding yourself cheering on in their quests to make the world a better place. Quinn Mitchell, a keenly smart CIA mega-data analyst, gets dragged from her cubicle cubbyhole and computer plasma data screens into the field on the hunt for a rampant Welcome to an exceptionally well-written, tightly woven, fast-plotted, edge-of-your-seat, intellectual sci-fi techno, near-future thriller! Better still, Cantrell crafts three main characters, each at odd with the others, but each of whom you ultimately finding yourself cheering on in their quests to make the world a better place. Quinn Mitchell, a keenly smart CIA mega-data analyst, gets dragged from her cubicle cubbyhole and computer plasma data screens into the field on the hunt for a rampant international killer. Quinn brings along for the ride a tremendous amount of emotional baggage, as she’s recently lost her young daughter Molly in a drowning in the next-door neighbor’s pool, dealt with the fracturing of her marriage after Molly’s death, and distanced herself from her junkie brother’s and remote mother’s lives. Alone, sad, and with all her family mementos stashed in a storage unit, Quinn struggles to finding any meaning or hope in her day-to-life, and so instead throws herself into the intellectualism of finding complex patterns in reams of Big Data. One pattern she’s tasked with is analyzing any patterns behind an international killer stalking seemingly unconnected victims. Ranveer, the international killer on the hunt and nick-named the Elite Assassin, travels at the highest levels of luxury from private jets to hotel penthouses, with discrete concierge service taking care of all the details. As he moves from one international city to the next, he’s killing one person in each city, with victims moving from oldest to youngest (the last being a 9-month-old baby) and with four-letter codes burnt or marked on each of their bodies. He’s also killing anyone with insider knowledge of what he’s up to, including uber-wealthy denizens of off-shore Oman man-made islands which they buy and retreat to as their own tiny nations. But things may not be even close to what they seem. Henrietta Yi, a brilliant double PhD in physics, has left academia to join the CIA to bring her vast scientific prowess to work for world good. Henrietta, a loner, saves her affection for Pokeman stuffed animals and Hello Kitty merchandise to soothe her grief over losing both her parents in a nuclear explosion in Seoul. She’s now at work on an ultra-top-secret CIA project involving a large particle collider that generates a coded message that appears to have been sent from the future. The lives of these three characters collide with the same energy as particle physics, as messages sent from the future get decoded, time travel appears feasible, and they embrace differing missions to salvage a future they want to ensure. Blend into all of this a potent mix of cutting-edge physics, technological innovation, social politics, and anti-authoritarianism, and you end up with a non-put-downable smart futuristic thriller. Not often, you find an author who’s carefully crafted language and story sets off a tuning fork in your brain, deeply resonating with all you hope for in a book. That’s what happened for me reading this thriller. My most fervent hope: a sequel as soon as possible!! Thanks to NetGalley for an advance reader's copy.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Elli (Kindig Blog)

    Scorpion is a techno-thriller set in the near future. I really enjoyed how close to home the futuristic elements to this book were - it didn’t feel like ‘sci-fi’ and a lot of the enhancement technologies seemed like great ideas that I hope may be on their way to us soon! I really enjoyed the first half of this book, there’s a cat and mouse chase between Quinn of the CIA and a deadly Elite Assassin who is killing people with seemingly no connection. This part of the book had the best pacing and I Scorpion is a techno-thriller set in the near future. I really enjoyed how close to home the futuristic elements to this book were - it didn’t feel like ‘sci-fi’ and a lot of the enhancement technologies seemed like great ideas that I hope may be on their way to us soon! I really enjoyed the first half of this book, there’s a cat and mouse chase between Quinn of the CIA and a deadly Elite Assassin who is killing people with seemingly no connection. This part of the book had the best pacing and I was really invested in the plot. We actually meet and know who the assassin is from quite early on so this added an extra element of trying to work out why they were committing the murders. I was a little confused by Quinn’s character - although she is a woman with a sad history she felt quite unrealistic. She’s an analyst but she is recruited onto this case in a field agent role despite having no previous experience. She also doesn’t seem to be being handled or managed at all throughout the case which was confusing considering her lack of expertise. It did feel very much like a male author writing a female main character in places - Quinn breaks down in tears in front of a key suspect at one point which was just ridiculous. There’s also mentions of periods and just so that the author is aware if a woman approaches me in a public restroom I do not automatically assume she is after a tampon! She also seemed to go through a complete personality transplant by the end of the book which was very jarring. After we get to the Grid the story suddenly got very confusing. There’s time travel, particle physics and secret codes and I have admit I got very lost. I’m someone who frequently reads sci-fi and can usually follow along with a science-based plot, but this was confusing for me and I can see from a lot of other reader’s reviews they have felt the same. There’s too much going on and it isn’t explained enough for us to get on board. I loved the character of Henrietta Yu but I had no idea what she was trying to achieve or had found out by the end of the book. I am also confused as to how the plot works without a major paradox happening (usually something that signals the end of the world in other stories), yet this seems to never be mentioned? All the tension that had been built up to the last quarter of the book disappeared as I tried to keep my head above water and understand what was going on. Overall, Scorpion has a strong start as a thriller story, but the sci-fi elements just confused matters leading to a muddled conclusion. Thank you to NetGalley & Penguin Books – Michael Joseph for the chance the read the ARC in exchange for an honest review. For more of my reviews check out www.kindig.co.uk

  20. 4 out of 5

    Brian's Book Blog

    Excellent So, I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I read and reviewed the first book I ever picked up by Christian Cantrell, Containment. But, I went back to see what my review looked like. I open it talking about being “compelled” to write a review – since this was before my blog and me reading and reviewing 150 books a year. So, for me at that time, it really stood out. Now, I mention this because when I saw that Cantrell had a new book, Scorpion, coming out soon – I had to have it. I hones Excellent So, I can’t believe it’s been 10 years since I read and reviewed the first book I ever picked up by Christian Cantrell, Containment. But, I went back to see what my review looked like. I open it talking about being “compelled” to write a review – since this was before my blog and me reading and reviewing 150 books a year. So, for me at that time, it really stood out. Now, I mention this because when I saw that Cantrell had a new book, Scorpion, coming out soon – I had to have it. I honestly bought this book without even reading the synopsis. I went into it blind because I knew how much I enjoyed Cantrell’s other work. I knew that it was going to have real or at least realistic science in it and I knew that it was going to knock my socks off. Thankfully, both of those assumptions were correct – Scorpion was full of realistic science fiction along with lots and lots of action. The seeming premise of the story is about a killer who is able to murder his marks without being noticed. They are dying in reverse age order and they all have 4 digit numbers on them at the time of death. Seemingly bizarre and unconnected since none of them were related or even seemed to know each other. Now, that’s the “seeming” premise. There was SO much more to this story and once the curtain was pulled back at around 75% of the book I was already hooked just trying to figure out who the killer was – when I was even more enthralled. It’s not that the book took a 180 or anything once the curtain was pulled back, but it made the book even more interesting. I was already hooked but now you had me completely on the edge of my seat. I was exhausted last night and I knew I had about 45 minutes left in Scorpion. Putting this book down was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do. I wanted to finish it, but I knew that I would enjoy it so much more today instead of listening when I was overtired. I’m glad that I did because the last 45 minutes not only cleaned things up but also put a lot of pieces into place for a potential other book in the series without leaving me with an intense cliffhanger. If Cantrell writes more – I’ll be happy, but if this is it. I’m just as pleased. Overall, I obviously enjoyed the heck out of this book. Scorpion was a fun technothriller that really blew me away. I don’t have to say much about Hillary Huber because she’s one of the best in the audiobook game working today. She nails the performance and basically became Quinn in my eyes. I couldn’t ask for much more out of a narrator.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Pile By the Bed

    Christian Cantrell’s Scorpion is a weird technothriller. For about two thirds of its length it seems to follow a fairly standard path of agent versus serial killer. But then it takes a significant right turn and the techno overtakes the thriller sending the whole plot in a direction that few readers would have been able to predict. The weirdness starts in the prologue where the background radiation from the Large Hadrion Collider seems to contain a message and that message could be from the futur Christian Cantrell’s Scorpion is a weird technothriller. For about two thirds of its length it seems to follow a fairly standard path of agent versus serial killer. But then it takes a significant right turn and the techno overtakes the thriller sending the whole plot in a direction that few readers would have been able to predict. The weirdness starts in the prologue where the background radiation from the Large Hadrion Collider seems to contain a message and that message could be from the future. Cut to the CIA which is investigating a series of seemingly random killings around the globe. The only thing that seems to connect these murders is that each victim has a four digit number embedded on their body somehow. The other odd detail is that each victim is younger than the next. Enter super analyst with a tragic past, Quinn Mitchell who is taken off a nuclear terrorism taskforce to help track down the killer. One of Quinn’s fellow agents is Henrietta Yi, the scientist who decoded the Collider message and is also working on a top secret project for the agency. While spending some time with Quinn, Cantrell follows that killer, a man called Ranveer, and delves deep into his methods and the various high teck gizmos that he uses to get the job done. For reasons that are never explained desk jockey Quinn goes to LA on Raveen’s trail and then using her analyst skills follows him to Oman and then Dubai. She is clearly out of her depth and no reason is given for her not having some form of field-trained back up. But despite her complete lack of field skills she does manage to catch up with Raveen. So far so standard – a story of a tech enabled killer being tracked by a tech savvy analyst. But it is at this point that the story gets weird and becomes more scifi than thriller, in ways that do not quite make sense. Suffice to say there are elements of time travel and predestination that do not hold up to too much detailed scrutiny. Scorpion will appeal to technothriller fans. It is full of weird technical weaponry (all lovingly described), detail of enclaves for the wealthy in Dubai and their use of cryptocurrency, and on the other side clever use of data and analytics to track down a virtual ghost. And there is plenty of tech in the back half but it is a little more arcane and bases itself in one of the most fundamental paradoxes of the science fiction (and philosophical) canon so may leave the usual fans of this genre scratching their heads more than a little.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jolie

    When I read the blurb for Scorpion, I was intrigued and a little wary—intrigued because I am a massive sucker for a mystery that goes international. Wary because I have read technothrillers before, and they were not my cup of tea. But, since I read anything that comes across my desk (or email in this case), I decided to take a chance on it. It was a chance that fell flat. Scorpion is the story about a CIA analyst, Quinn, who is called in to help with a strange case. There have been 22 people kill When I read the blurb for Scorpion, I was intrigued and a little wary—intrigued because I am a massive sucker for a mystery that goes international. Wary because I have read technothrillers before, and they were not my cup of tea. But, since I read anything that comes across my desk (or email in this case), I decided to take a chance on it. It was a chance that fell flat. Scorpion is the story about a CIA analyst, Quinn, who is called in to help with a strange case. There have been 22 people killed, all with different numbers tattooed somewhere on their bodies. Who is this serial killer, who controls him, and why do they want those people dead? The answers might be the biggest surprise of all. Scorpion started as a fast-paced book. The storyline zipped right along until it hit the middle of the book. Then the storyline came almost to a standstill, which surprised me. Unfortunately, it did take some time for the author to get the story going again. Scorpion’s storyline was exciting at first. It was easy to follow, focusing on Quinn and Ranveer during the first half of the book. Then the author introduced Henrietta, who I thought would be a secondary character and the storyline took on an unfortunate (and weird) turn. After that, I almost couldn’t follow the storyline because of everything that was going on. It was too much. If the author had just kept the storyline focused on Quinn and Ranveer, I would have been OK with it and enjoyed the book more. I wasn’t sure if I liked Quinn. I did have sympathy for her, and when her backstory was revealed, my heart broke. But, she came across as flaky. A former spy, you would have thought that she would have had at least some experience with interviews. But she didn’t and cried during an interview. I mean, seriously? Who does that? There is a lot of technical jargon that did bog down the storyline. I found myself googling terms a lot. Again, it didn’t help with the book’s flow and made me grumpy while reading it. The end of the book was a giant cluster. I couldn’t wrap my head around what was happening (and I read the last eight chapters twice). Add in everything that was happening with Henrietta, and I was like, “What. The. Heck. Is. Going. On“. Like I mentioned above, it was almost too much. I did like the first half of Scorpion. It was a good read with the right amount of mystery and thriller. But the book went downhill in the second half, and I didn’t enjoy it. I am on the fence if I would recommend Scorpion. There is no sex. There is violence, sometimes graphic. There is one troubling scene of a baby being murdered. There is mental illness with the character going off her meds.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Elaine Tomasso

    I would like to thank Netgalley and Penguin Michael Joseph UK for an advance copy of Scorpion, a thriller featuring CIA analyst Quinn Mitchell. People are being killed all over the world in apparently motiveless murders, the only thing that links them is seemingly random sets of four numbers etched on their skin. Quinn Mitchell is asked to investigate and soon realises that one man is responsible. I enjoyed Scorpion, to a point. I didn’t realise that it is a techno-thriller, set, I think, in the n I would like to thank Netgalley and Penguin Michael Joseph UK for an advance copy of Scorpion, a thriller featuring CIA analyst Quinn Mitchell. People are being killed all over the world in apparently motiveless murders, the only thing that links them is seemingly random sets of four numbers etched on their skin. Quinn Mitchell is asked to investigate and soon realises that one man is responsible. I enjoyed Scorpion, to a point. I didn’t realise that it is a techno-thriller, set, I think, in the near future, but it could be set in the present day and I simply didn’t know the technology exists, and therein lies the problem. I am technically illiterate so I didn’t really understand the detail (and there is plenty of it) of the gadgetry and cyber navigation. I got the gist and that was enough to keep reading and be amazed and frightened by this view of what is to come. I wouldn’t call the novel dystopian, more a measured extrapolation of what is already or about to be developed. Technology aside I found the plot line gripping with twists and ingenious turns galore. It does hinge to a certain extent on technology but mostly it is a cat and mouse game between hunter and prey. It is told alternately between Quinn and the killer, Ranveer. Later on it moves more into the science fiction realm with concepts that I’m not even going to pretend to understand and have no embarrassment in admitting totally baffled me. They seem illogical to me but I can’t discuss them further without spoilers. I did, however, like the twists that I could understand. I like the author’s writing style which is engaging, interesting and full of vim and his characterisation which brings the personalities to life. If you like a hi-tech, hi-concept thriller I think Scorpion is a good example but for technological and scientific illiterates like myself it’s too complicated to be thoroughly enjoyable.

  24. 4 out of 5

    M. K. French

    Quinn Mitchell is an intelligence analyst for the CIA, and her life is thrown into a tailspin when her daughter dies. Investigating bizarre murders with numeric codes tattooed, burned, or carved into bodies should draw her attention from her grief. Following the killer's lead, she suspects a link between her and the murders, as well as the Epoch Index, a code found within the Large Hadron Collider that even the CIA can't decrypt. Discovering the true meaning of the Epoch Index will shatter every Quinn Mitchell is an intelligence analyst for the CIA, and her life is thrown into a tailspin when her daughter dies. Investigating bizarre murders with numeric codes tattooed, burned, or carved into bodies should draw her attention from her grief. Following the killer's lead, she suspects a link between her and the murders, as well as the Epoch Index, a code found within the Large Hadron Collider that even the CIA can't decrypt. Discovering the true meaning of the Epoch Index will shatter everything Quinn has ever known. This is a fascinating novel, a near-future science fiction novel. There are self-driving cars, augmented reality glasses, wireless charging for prosthetic limbs, new cryptocurrencies, international assassinations, and devices that may or may not be messages sent from the future. Quinn grabbed me from the start, the lonely analyst still grieving her daughter and the decay of her marriage in the wake of that death. The deaths brought her in to analyze the connections and patterns of the Elite Assassin, and she soon sees that it's more dangerous than she thought. I loved a number of side characters, who were fascinating to read about. Even the characters passing through get a thorough background, and ties between storylines. I enjoyed getting a look into their backgrounds, seeing the connections they made. My favorite ones easily were the victim in our opener and Henrietta. I mean, the image of a brilliant Henrietta looking like a K-pop princess with a Hello Kitty suitcase and holding a Pokémon plush is wonderful, and my eyes widened in surprise as her transformations took place. Others that I felt suspicious of in the beginning really show their true colors after a while, so I can't blame her for changing so much. I lost track of time reading this, completely immersed in the story. It's a book that also leaves quite a few questions about its future, and is extremely satisfying.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Vivienne

    My thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph U.K. for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Scorpion’ by Christian Cantrell in exchange for an honest review. This was a science fiction/techno thriller based in the near future. CIA Analyst Quinn Mitchell has been assigned to investigate a series of murders that have the authorities baffled. Twenty-two people around the world have been murdered, yet they fit no profile, their circumstances differ as well as the manner of their deaths. The only link between them is tha My thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph U.K. for an eARC via NetGalley of ‘Scorpion’ by Christian Cantrell in exchange for an honest review. This was a science fiction/techno thriller based in the near future. CIA Analyst Quinn Mitchell has been assigned to investigate a series of murders that have the authorities baffled. Twenty-two people around the world have been murdered, yet they fit no profile, their circumstances differ as well as the manner of their deaths. The only link between them is that each victim has been branded with a random 4-digit number. The killer appears to be a ghost with seemingly unlimited resources. I found this a terrific thriller. While set in a recognisable world, there was just enough advances in technology and events mentioned, such as the mandate for the denuclearisation of the planet six years previously, to flag it as futuristic. Most of its chapters follow various characters as they either advance or impede the investigation. Aside from Quinn there is Henrietta Yi, a physicist who while working at the Large Hadron Collider identified the mysterious Epoch Index, rumoured to be a message from the future. She is currently working on a secret project though will not confirm or deny any link to the Index. Other chapters follow the murderer as they methodically add to their body count. ‘Scorpion’ was an intelligent, complex rollercoaster of a SF action thriller with elements of espionage added to the mix. While there is a fair amount of jargon, I felt that Cantrell conveyed the meanings well. I also thought that the technological and science aspects were balanced by strong characterisations that included a sense of their humanity. There were also philosophical ideas integrated into the narrative. In this, I was reminded of the writings of Philip K. Dick and William Gibson. Overall, I found ‘Scorpion’ very satisfying and I am now quite interested in reading more of Christian Cantrell’s work. 4.5 stars rounded up to 5.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Daphne Sharpe

    This took me well out of my comfort zone, indeed I read the first few pages and gave up twice!! Then I thought, if I forget the Tom Cruise/ Minority Report references, and The Terminator/ time travel ideas, I might stand a fighting chance! Which, is what happened, it became a brilliant murder mystery that I enjoyed! Okay, some later pages were skipped, other times I wasn’t sure if some of the scientific items were real or fictional, but most of what I read, I did enjoy. It wasn’t quite 50 ways t This took me well out of my comfort zone, indeed I read the first few pages and gave up twice!! Then I thought, if I forget the Tom Cruise/ Minority Report references, and The Terminator/ time travel ideas, I might stand a fighting chance! Which, is what happened, it became a brilliant murder mystery that I enjoyed! Okay, some later pages were skipped, other times I wasn’t sure if some of the scientific items were real or fictional, but most of what I read, I did enjoy. It wasn’t quite 50 ways to kill a person, but the murders were highly inventive and executed intelligently ( pardon the pun) .Each death didn’t seem to be related to the others that preceded them, the only similarities were, the age at death was younger than the last one, and a number was printed upon the body, no spoilers available I may have switched off momentarily by then! I loved the Elite Assassin character, the most interesting person in this book. Quinn as a name, who the heck thought of that one? There were brilliant chase sequences and the concept of everything being available for the Super, Super Rich, would that be as nice as implied? It all seemed so cold and impersonal, but perfect for protection from the law. My son in law loves this genre, spends a lot of time on fantasy games and books, so, that’s his 40th birthday present sorted. I shall have to plaster a fixed smile upon my face when he takes it upon himself to explain this book to me. Which he will do, sure as eggs are eggs! I have really appreciated the chance to read this novel, this would not normally have found a place on my reading list. I’m probably too old for this target reading audience, but what I read and understood, I enjoyed. Thanks to Penguin Michael Joseph UK, and Netgalley for my ARC, in return for my honest review. I will post reviews later and a copy of this novel will be bought as a present in August.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Kath

    There have been 22 people murdered around the world, linked by being branded with a number. The only other thing they have in common with each other is that they have nothing in common with each other! With all the police and security services around the world floundering, the CIA decides to take a bit of control in the matter and assigns CIA Analyst Quinn Mitchell to head up an investigation. She's well prepared for her task and it's not long before she makes a breakthrough and is hot on the tr There have been 22 people murdered around the world, linked by being branded with a number. The only other thing they have in common with each other is that they have nothing in common with each other! With all the police and security services around the world floundering, the CIA decides to take a bit of control in the matter and assigns CIA Analyst Quinn Mitchell to head up an investigation. She's well prepared for her task and it's not long before she makes a breakthrough and is hot on the trail of the assassin. But then things take a turn and - well - nothing could prepare for what she discovers... Although I managed to get through this book and the final dénouement was worth the journey, it was a bit of a slog. It's almost like the author needed to "up the word count" as there were parts that were so wordy that I got a bit bogged down in the prose and forgot where we were actually going in the narrative. I also got a bit bogged down in all the techno stuff, and I do consider myself to be quite switched on with that side of things, so that was also a bit disappointing. I think maybe the author was trying a little too hard to be a little too clever - sometimes less can be more. Characters were good once they had all been established and I really did enjoy the cat-and-mouse game it all became between Quinn and the perp. It just too a bit of a while getting there and there was a danger of them all getting a bit lost in the noise. It also felt like it was the start of a series or trilogy... maybe... There is definitely a platform established that could be built on. Whether I'm up for a part two (if it is to happen) I am not sure. Maybe I'll dip in... I never say never but I'll probably wait and read some trusted reviewers first. My thanks go to the Publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Mark Parnell

    Any story that involves time travel has to deal with the paradox that the very act of travelling back or forward into time will create. Like the use of magic, those stories that succeed clearly define the rules of use over the course of the story. Tenet did its best to convince you that the story did not involve time travel yet in its third and final act disregarded its own rule when the Protagonist does just that to save Kat. There will be an obvious comparison between Scorpion and Tenet but wh Any story that involves time travel has to deal with the paradox that the very act of travelling back or forward into time will create. Like the use of magic, those stories that succeed clearly define the rules of use over the course of the story. Tenet did its best to convince you that the story did not involve time travel yet in its third and final act disregarded its own rule when the Protagonist does just that to save Kat. There will be an obvious comparison between Scorpion and Tenet but whereas Christopher Nolan set and broke his own rules with time travel, Christopher Cantrell does not. Granted a little disbelief is still required when it comes to the main concept of time travel but in sending messages and not people back in time, Cantrell has created a world much more believable then Nolans. Hunting down an elusive assassin, killing worldwide with no rhyme or reason (and in some of the most horrific creative ways) is Quinn Mitchell, a CIA super star at pattern recognition. Catching up the elusive killer is where the story really begins. Who he is becomes second nature to why and whom he is killing setting the stage for an explosive ending in what is the first in a trilogy. For me this book just worked! From reminding us of the shadiness of the CIA, to a unique use of the Hadron Collider, from an assassin that will give you nightmares to a damaged heroine in Quinn Mitchell, Scorpion pulled on all the right strings.

  29. 5 out of 5

    deep

    PW Starred: " This stunning near-future thriller from Cantrell (Equinox) takes some truly breathtaking turns. CIA data analyst Quinn Mitchell is sent in pursuit of the Elite Assassin, an apparently unpredictable and unstoppable killer. Readers, meanwhile, are introduced to the inscrutable murderer Ranveer, whose killings efficiently carry out someone else’s master plan. Quinn’s clever investigation, using neatly extrapolated high-tech gadgets, is fascinating in itself, and, as the CIA receives m PW Starred: " This stunning near-future thriller from Cantrell (Equinox) takes some truly breathtaking turns. CIA data analyst Quinn Mitchell is sent in pursuit of the Elite Assassin, an apparently unpredictable and unstoppable killer. Readers, meanwhile, are introduced to the inscrutable murderer Ranveer, whose killings efficiently carry out someone else’s master plan. Quinn’s clever investigation, using neatly extrapolated high-tech gadgets, is fascinating in itself, and, as the CIA receives missives from the future through the time-bending Epoch Index, Quinn’s search collides with some darkly fascinating thought experiments. Among them: would a person be justified in killing a nine-month-old baby if told he would grow up to be a terrorist? Quinn is not the only one to grapple with such issues; so must her colleague, quantum physicist Henrietta Yi, whose parents died in a terrorist attack, but who is increasingly worried about how her bosses could use the Epoch Index to create an authoritarian future. Cantrell’s drolly caustic prose encourages readers to care about the characters, even as the many surprises make it dangerous to get close to any one of them. The result is as entertaining as it is intellectually and ethically challenging. Agent: Joe Veltre, the Gersh Agency. (May) "

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Barry

    22 people around the world have been murdered. No obvious links, all in different circumstances. Only one thing leads the CIA to believe it is at the hands of a serial killer. They have all been branded with a different number. The case is investigated by CIA analyst Quinn Mitchell, who suffered a tragic loss a few years previous. Her investigation takes her around the world trying to get one step ahead of the killer. But it seems no matter how hard she tries, they always seem to know her next mo 22 people around the world have been murdered. No obvious links, all in different circumstances. Only one thing leads the CIA to believe it is at the hands of a serial killer. They have all been branded with a different number. The case is investigated by CIA analyst Quinn Mitchell, who suffered a tragic loss a few years previous. Her investigation takes her around the world trying to get one step ahead of the killer. But it seems no matter how hard she tries, they always seem to know her next move. This is a fun, adventurous, techy book. Lots of futuristic gadgets to get you thinking. It's a little bit sci-fi, a little bit crime detective story. There is a lot of science jargon but I personally didn't find that off putting. Quinn is a likeable, relatable character that you really want to succeed. At times she becomes very vulnerable and overwhelmed (in quite a professional manner) but it's still really enjoyable. I think this would be a great introduction to someone who hasn't read much sci-fi. It mainly focuses on technological advances that could maybe be possible and are very believable. I'd definitely recommend this book and would read a follow up if the author ever turned it into a series.

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