Killfile -- Christopher Farnsworth
William Morrow Publishing
When I first starting reading this book, I immediately thought of all the practical, and impractical, applications that the talent of the main character could provide for me. In fact, as soon as I read the summary inside the cover, I started thinking how cool that power could be. I had a vision of having someone walking into a closed door,while they thought it was open. I may have even giggled a little bit while I was still in the Lockport Library.
Killfile by Christopher Farnsworth is the novel of a man who can hear the thoughts of others as easily as listening to the radio. In fact, he can even make people think they’re seeing something that isn’t there, and make them do things they may not normally do. Because of this ability, John Smith is one of the most sought after contractors for the military and for affluent businessmen.
Smith is hired by eccentric software billionaire, Everett Sloan, to recover the memories of stolen computer code from the brain of his former protege, Eli Preston. Unfortunately, Preston has been hired by one of the alphabet soup outfits in the Beltway, and discovers the truth behind Smith. Superiors in clandestine services advise Preston to “terminate with extreme prejudice” the mysterious man Smith. This sends Smith, and his cover, Kelsey Foster, on the run.
Preston’s computer expertise drains Smith of all his resources, his home, his savings, and his vehicles, and sends him scurrying off the grid to survive the onslaught of mercenaries hired by Preston. Luckily, Smith’s abilities allow him to know when someone is coming, and he is able to Preston’s own resources against him.
Throughout the novel, we get glimpses into Smith’s past. We learn how he was recruited, first by the Army, and then by the CIA. HIs foster family was more than happy to let the underage boy in their care join the military. He was just different than the others. Despite being put to use in situations that bordered on criminal with regard to what was being done to war prisoners, Smith was able to maintain a conscience and walked away from the CIA. Part of this is due to the fact that each person he influences, or gets inside the head of, he feels a portion of the pain they’re going through during the torture.
This book was a thriller from cover to cover. In true Christopher Farnsworth fashion (he also wrote the President’s Vampire series), his writing keeps you on the edge of your seat. Time and time again, he puts his characters in hopeless situations only to have ingenuity and intrigue win the day.
There are some truly frightening moments in this book. The extent to which various entities can track individuals in their daily lives through social media and nearly infinite security cameras across the country is disturbing. And it’s probably pretty darn close to reality. It is nearly impossible to be truly anonymous in this day and age. The fear that comes with being tracked, the prey so to speak, echoes through the words that Farnsworth has written.
I enjoyed Killfile by Christopher Farnsworth quite a bit. It was just as exciting as the “President’s Vampire” trilogy, and the door was left open just the tiniest of cracks for the further adventures of John Smith. To be fair, though, I’m not sure how much you could add to this storyline, but John Smith is an intriguing character. Even if the author moves on to another narrative with new characters, I’m sure I will follow him into his new worlds. Christopher Farnsworth writes those plots that are just fun to follow.