Two of a Kind?

Author: Greg Cox
Pocket Books
RRP £5.99, US $6.99, Cdn $10.50
ISBN 1 4169 0213 9
Available 03 October 2005

In an effort to keep the edge in twenty-first century warfare the United States has developed the Kestrel, a state of the art unmanned plane, only problem is, someone has hacked into its cybernetic brain and stolen it. Maya Rao, an old adversary of Sydney Bristow's, approaches APO to help - not only to get back the plane she stole but to rescue her fiancé, the man who hacked into the plane. Sydney is assigned to work with Maya, but she feels uneasy, both are professional, both have killed, can Sydney really convince herself that they are that much different or are they two of a kind...?

Written by Greg Cox, Two of a Kind is another new novel based on the television show Alias. Greg has many genre novels to his name, mostly Star Trek and for a day job he pulls in a gig as an editor. Where does the poor man find the time to output so many novels.

For those of you who have never watched the show Alias, it's your basic counter espionage set-up, with the addition that all the characters are either related to each other or having some form of romantic relationship. Unfortunately this usually leads to many of the Alias writers making dull introspection into an art form. Thankfully, in the case of Two of a Kind, this is kept to a minimum.

What Greg Cox has produced here is a solid adventure that will appeal to the fans of the show without alienating the casual reader. One of the things I liked about the book was the sly touches of wit which are dispersed throughout the narrative. The scene set in the science fiction convention, where Sydney is trying to track down Fujiwara, Maya's fiancé, shows an understanding of fandom while at the same time refraining from making the characters a source of unnecessary fun. Just as well considering that many of the people who will buy this book will take their fandom just as seriously.

Duality and duplicity is the name of the game in this story. When Sydney is forced to work with Maya to retrieve the stolen plane she soon comes to realise that she is not so different to her old adversary. With this troubling thought in mind Sydney goes on a spiritual journey to discover if she has a moral centre which justifies her actions as an agent.

Cox uses every trick in the book to keep the reader guessing as to Maya's motivation for approaching Sydney to save her fiancé Fujiwara - especially as he was the computer hack whose skill allowed Maya to steal the plane in the first place.

So, a good solid book. Though I thought that the end part dragged a little. This book is a fine read for Alias fans and not so referential, to the show, as to put off the casual reader.

Charles Packer

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