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The Machine (An Ethan Stone Thriller Book 1) [Kindle Edition]

Tom Aston
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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  • Length: 368 pages
  • Word Wise: Enabled
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Book Description

Amazon UK Top 50 Reviewer Bob wrote: "This is the first 5* review I have given to a fiction book this year... In summary a great book if you like fast paced but thoughtful thrillers."

“THE MACHINE” is an adventure thriller which will thrill readers of Ludlum and Baldacci - a fast-moving tale of extraordinary characters, brutal action and a kaleidoscope of technology ideas which vividly twists its way through Hong Kong and China. All told in the unique voice of Ethan Stone – cool, laconic and intelligent.

Steven Semyonov is a 29 year-old tech billionaire. But that’s not why everyone wants to meet him. Billionaires, after all, are commonplace. Everyone want to meet Semyonov because he is the cleverest man alive.

So when Semyonov gives up his billions in California and defects to China, never to return, there must be a reason. That reason is something called The Machine.

Ethan Stone is ex-Special Forces, turned radical activist. He runs a whistle-blowing leaks web site called Has Stone stumbled upon Semyonov’s deadly secret? Stone flies to Hong Kong in pursuit, but the dark forces around Semyonov are ready for him, and he finds himself hunted for murder. He is forced to use every ounce of his cunning to survive, and his resolve to put violent Special Forces past behind him is tested to the limit. Stone enlists the help of a spiky Chinese dissident woman named Ying Ning, and travels deeper and deeper into evade the sinister Public Security Bureau, track down the truth about Semyonov, and ultimately to find The Machine.

Deep beneath an ancient crater in the foothills of Tibet lies The Machine - the reason Semyonov gave up everything to come to China, the reason he gave away his billions. Only Semyonov’s not the only one who wants to find it.

"I can highly-recommend this book to readers who enjoy Jo Nesbo, Lee Child, Tom Clancy and Thomas Harris." - Simon Fairbanks

"Finally a thriller that's worthy of the name! Fantastic story line, complex characters and twists and turns that keep you hooked and wanting more.
I'd defy anyone to put down their kindle for more than a moment before fingers twitch and you come back, wanting to find out what happens next." - Kate Goodman

"I came away feeling educated and that's rare in an airport thriller novel." - Iain M. Grant

The next Ethan Stone Thriller entitled "The Noble Lie" is out on Amazon Kindle.

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Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 620 KB
  • Print Length: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Pigeon Park Press (14 Jun. 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008BUHC1Q
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #320,781 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Tom Aston grew up near Manchester, England and went on to study Far Eastern Languages at university. His career has taken him to London and Chicago and he has spent time living in both China and Japan. He has worked in many roles in the book business, including as editor, publisher's rep and as a bookseller with his own store for twelve years. Now he has discovered the joys of writing and storytelling, his one regret is that he did not start learning his craft as a writer earlier in life.
Aston's latest novel, "The Machine", is the second featuring radical peace activist and campaigner, Ethan Stone. It is a page-turning thriller, packed with extraordinary characters, intrigue and stunning ideas. Aston's aim is to set new standards for the thriller genre with his quality of writing and his subtle themes. Aston has drawn on his knowledge of modern China to paint the unforgettable scenes in "The Machine".
His translation from the Classical Chinese of Du Fu's "The Ballad of Lovely Women", undertaken in research for The Machine, can be seen on the TomAstonBooks web site.
The first Ethan Stone novel, "The Lie", is also due out from Pigeon Park Press later in 2012.
Tom Aston lives in Birmingham, England with his wife and three children.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Hand Review - The Machine 1 July 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
You can see this is a five star review so, I guess, what I ought to do is justify giving Tom Aston's first novel the same rating I would give to the best works by Tom Clancy, Robert Ludlum or Len Deighton (three authors Tom Aston bears serious comparison to). Well, here goes...

The Machine is a techno-thriller, falling between the two stools of contemporary thriller and science fiction. It is absolutely a book of the now but bears shades of a real future that we may already be living in. References to Afghanistan, the freedom and corruption of the press and the machinations of modern China sit alongside nanotechnology, robots and the eponymous machine. Given the long process from writing to publication, it's scary and impressive to think that Tom Aston must have been writing this in the weeks and months before the scandals involving Julian Assange, Rupert Murdoch and Bo Xilai hit our TV screens. Either this guy is psychic, incredibly lucky or has his finger firmly on the pulse of what's going on and what matters.

Oh, yeah, the machine of the title. I'm not going to tell you what the machine is. That would ruin one of the many twists. What I will say is that the machine is not just a MacGuffin. It's the coolest MacGuffin to appear in contemporary fiction. Tom Aston could have built an entire novel around the premise of the machine but he's got so much going on in this book that we must take what we can and be happy.

The plot is intricate but the characters and the urgency of the pace keep the reader on board at all times. Much of the focus is on Steven Semyonov, the computer billionaire who gives up his fortune to defect to China and work on building his future.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Thriller 15 July 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
This book was supplied free to review.
As this is an "Ethan Stone Thriller" it is obviously part of a series however it stands well alone. It is one of the best thrillers I have read this year. It is an action packed book which retains an interesting plot. All of the characters are well described with enough, but not too much, detail to be able to visualise them. I was amused that the central character "Ethan Stone" was someone described as always alert but seemed to have been surprised too easily. Unlike a lot of books almost all of the characters were individual and stood out rather than put in to make up the numbers. I particularly liked "Steven Semyonov" the genius and the enigmatic "Ying Ning" and "Virginia Carlisle" the reporter. Although you have to suspend disbelief as there is everything from miniature killer robots to Buddhist monks the plot holds up throughout all this. I liked the way that the internet was embedded into the story and how public perception can be influenced by the media. Eventually the mystery of the "machine" in the title is revealed.
In summary a great book if you like fast paced but thoughtful thrillers.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Couldn't put it down! 11 July 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am a big fan of the Michael Crichton genre of science based action novels and The Machine certainly hit the spot for me. The pace is breathtaking and the short chapters make the book compulsive reading, I read it in 2 days and my wife who normally prefers "other" genres read it in 3 days. The author must certainly have a both a very vivid imagination and good grasp of modern science to have developed some of the concepts in the book. Also the descriptions of today's China are wonderful and really add depth to the story without distracting from the pace of the story. For £1.99 it is a steal and I thoroughly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Far from my usual genre, but I'm hooked now 31 Oct. 2012
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I got this when at the bargain price of £0.00 in the Kindle store. It's the best £0.00 I've ever spent. Now I'm going to have to part with real money to buy the rest of this author's books.
The plot is set in China and you're led on a rollercoaster ride through Hong Kong to the mountains near Tibet. The tantalizing question of what The Machine is keeps the pages turning. The characters are vivid and believable. One thing this author does particularly well is avoiding unnecessary gore. Yes, there is violence, but it is described in such a way that you get the sense and suspense of the situation, but it's not gratuitous; just enough to fit in with the plot.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Stone Rocks 29 Mar. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition
Tom Aston's The Machine has all the potential of Jo Nesbo's Harry Hole detective series. The pace is swift, the characters intriguing and the suspense is sustained throughout.

The Machine's protagonist, Ethan Stone, is a refreshing take on the usual loner detective archetype. Stone is a cross between Indiana Jones and Julian Assange: blogger, ex-soldier and lecturer in Peace Studies.

The Chinese setting is vividly described and Aston impresses with his intimate knowledge of both Chinese culture and history, all of which is filtered gently into the story so it never feels like a Michael Palin memoir.

Ultimately, The Machine is a strong debut novel and serves as a solid introduction to Stone and the world he inhabits. I look forward to future jet-setting Stone thrillers and can highly-recommend this book to readers who enjoy Jo Nesbo, Lee Child, Tom Clancy and Thomas Harris.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
All OK.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read
Interesting, thrilling, quite technical at times, but necessarily so for the story. I am a Stella Rimington fan, The Machine has a similar feel.
Published 9 months ago by Jaycee
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read !
This would not be the first genre of novel that I would choose to read, but I was intrigued by the cover, and I was not disappointed. Read more
Published on 17 July 2013 by DebbieA
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Read
Well written, fast paced book. Loved the short chapters as it kept me intrigued and wanting more. In the genre of Tom Clancy, thoroughly enjoyed it!
Published on 14 July 2013 by Krager
3.0 out of 5 stars Started well, but faded
Read this and initially thought it would hold my attention throughout, but sadly found the story 'flagging' a little as it progressed. Read more
Published on 17 Mar. 2013 by Amazon Customer
3.0 out of 5 stars Hyperbolic action, dodgy editing
If you're a fan of fast-paced action then you might enjoy this book. Unfortunately I found the characters a bit OTT and cliched. Read more
Published on 23 Feb. 2013 by Ghengiz Jones
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read but so many grammar mistakes
A really enjoyable book but the poor grammar and missing words make it very distracting to read.
I'd still highly recommend it, though!
Published on 9 Sept. 2012 by Adventurer
5.0 out of 5 stars A thriller that really thrills
Finally a thriller that's worthy of the name! Fantastic story line, complex characters and twists and turns that keep you hooked and wanting more. Read more
Published on 13 Aug. 2012 by Kate Goodman
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