The threat of sentient quantum computing has never been more believable. Its scary applications can either create a utopia for us or end human civilization as we know it. Bailey’s debut thriller – The Benevolent Deception is either a masterpiece in storytelling or the most complex and confusing plot I’ve come across.
The level of application of these quantum systems is closer to reality than you would think. I wanted a bit more of the technical side of it but was shown the effect it will have on people. Bailey’s research, plotting, and the narrative is at a quantum level despite this being his first book.
The book focuses on four protagonists: Simon – a mercenary, Casey – a tourist, Perri – a liberal Muslim woman and Conner – a gay journalist. All four of them are complex, flawed, relatable and unique. They go on a journey of self-discovery, emotional development and introspection through a plot that’s deceiving and yet satisfying.
With believable action, nerve-racking twists and scary projections of a possible future Bailey brings out a new turn in the thriller narrative. He leans less towards technology and politics but moves towards character journeys and deceptive perceptions.
All the parallel plots focus on two NSA programs called Shatterhand and Benevolent. Both of these have gone out of control and do not have any humans managing them. From a fake President to geopolitical chaos, the use of quantum coding is explored to disastrous results.
From a journey across Africa to Afghanistan and the US, and across Europe, the characters are always in a fix that keeps on amplifying. In every couple of chapters, the plot twists orchestrated by hidden entities left me stunned. The climax makes this whole book seem like a long prologue to the sequel – The Shatterhand Code which is coming out this year.
I was especially delighted to read scenes set in India and the use of MARCOS or Marine Commandos in a thriller book. Though Bailey is from Australia, he has been to most of the locations of the book sometime in his storied career.
The only problem I had was that I felt that it took a long time to read this book. Since the book has equal page space for all protagonists, it feels like a long journey.
I’ll have memories of this book for a long time due to its original concept that moves beyond just action.