Book Review: The Gomorrah Gambit by Tom Chatfield

The Gomorrah Gambit

Tom Chatfield

July 23, 2019

In Tom Chatfield’s breakneck speed techno-thriller, The Gomorrah Gambit, an elite hacker enters the belly of the beast and is caught in the middle of an international conspiracy. If you have no idea what’s going on in the dark underworld of hacking, this is the book to read.

There’s the internet you use to read book reviews and discover great authors, and there’s the dark side of the internet, “the places you go to get whatever society doesn’t want you to get.”

A gifted hacker since his early teens, Azi thinks he can infiltrate and master that secretive world, until one day, virtual life knocks at his all too real door in East Croydon, London. He is then dragged into the belly of the beast. In the process, he meets the beautiful Munira. With cousins in the grips of the Islamic Republic, she is desperate to know more, but in doing so, she has attracted the attention of a very dangerous group of people. Her new knight Azi is ready for anything to come to her help. But there’s no way even Azi—the super hacker—could imagine what he is getting into, and all the dangers lurking ahead. Will his tech abilities allow him to survive, as he enters the dark world of grand scale espionage, conspiracy, cybercrime, and terrorism?

Pro tip: in life as in software, always start with the Frequently Asked Questions. It will stop you looking stupid later.

Until the end, neither Azi nor the reader can fully understand who the good and the bad guys are in this race for power. Can Azi even trust his long life friend Ad?

There is so much to love in this breakneck speed techno-thriller.

I appreciated the balanced amount of tech jargon and procedures, both detailed and understandable enough. The book features brand new, scary, and fascinating technological details, for instance on fake IDs and bots, and on so much more. Having just read another book on the future of computers and AI, all this sounded very well documented and totally plausible. The author Tom Chatfield, who presents himself as a tech philosopher with many nonfiction books to his name, has definitely done his homework.

As the reader, you feel like Azi: most often totally confused and under a huge amount of stress and tension. Kudos to the author for achieving this power through his words, in The Gomorrah Gambit, his very first novel.
He even manages to throw in humorous and lyrical passages. And takes you to several countries. You are in for quite a ride!

Summer days begin fast here, sketching the sky first in gray and then in a succession of blues, as if the dark is defrosting.

The characterization was masterful as well, with seemingly-sleazy fellows, and a rather innocent Azi. There are also plenty of mysterious characters, in front of the scene or in the wings, but all are given satisfying real to life dimensions. I definitely want to meet some of them again, the ones who manage to make it alive by the end of this book, that is.

The intricate mesh of narratives lines relentlessly draws you in, until the core gambit starts making sense. Or does it? The author appropriately does not resolve completely the why of all that’s going on here, which could gently hint that a second volume is coming, or more bluntly point to the madness our world will eventually be hurtling into, if we don’t quickly take measures to use AI and related technologies in a more thoughtful way, for the sake of civilization, and not its destruction.

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