DiscoverThriller & Suspense

The Cardinals

By

Not for me 😔

Interesting concept eroded by poor execution and undermined by political dogma.

Synopsis

Drugs, sex, and secret parties are only the beginning for Imane Giroud, an ethical hacker with a rebellious commitment to taking down corruption. In the middle of a hacking operation, her father points her to a man named Laurent Domine, a prominent art curator and member of one of the most secretive societies in the world, les Cardinaux. Imane thinks he is going to help her take down a chemical company called Oronics, but the meeting turns into something much, much more than that. Her hacking abilities and intellect make her the perfect candidate for recruitment into the Cardinals, a progressive secret society currently threatened by a radicalized group of six former members.
The group known as the Six, believes creativity is a danger to the world and will attempt anything to destroy the valuable cultural works that the Cardinals have in their possession. Artistry, hidden chambers, and masquerade parties are just some of the things that Imane Giroud encounters along the way, as she is the one chosen to keep the Cardinals safe. But not everything is as it seems, including her father.

Despite a highly intriguing setup, M.A. Spengler’s debut novel, “The Cardinals,” quickly dulls due to a wide variety of weaknesses in the writing and becomes irritating with its gradually increasing push of leftist ideology on the reader.

 

Ethical hacker, Imane Giroud, catches the attention of the Cardinals with her take down of a corrupt chemical company, only to get sucked into a battle between the secret society and a pack of disgruntled former members bent on destroying the order.

  

Initially the combination of computer hackers and secret societies seems exciting, and the first few chapters arguably have the most substance. Imane’s hacking activities are high stakes, and her background allows for an unconventional perspective on morality. Fourth wall breaks were a pleasant surprise, taking advantage of the first-person style the book is written in. Spengler is good at creating fairly rich imagery when establishing settings. A cohesive narrative with the bones for a good suspense novel are established reasonably well.

 

As the book progresses, however, very little meat grows on those bones. The pace remains near constant, stuck in the first-person POV folly of, “I did this, then we did that, then this happened,” which manages to suck any suspense out of the plot and seriously hinder the reader’s ability to get into the story. Nearly all the characters are flat, and unchanging. Twists are few, relatively predictable and easily resolved. Imane seems to spend most of her time with The Cardinals so intoxicated, it makes the rest of the simple storyline rather unbelievable. These combine to render the story somewhat boring, but still interesting enough to consider despite proofreading errors. Where the author lost me was when the fourth wall breaks became a platform from which to preach liberal ideology at the reader. I want action and intrigue in a suspense novel, not an ideological lecture.

  

I could forgive a certain degree of bad writing due to the interesting premise, but the increasingly noticeable left-wing bias finally overrode any appreciation I had for the bones of the story. The book is dedicated, “to the activists,” and I suspect liberal activists are the only audience that could get past the weak technique into this leftist daydream adventure.

Reviewed by

I love thrillers and suspense, and Reedsy has kept me inspired. In 2020, though my focus will be on creating my own original stories, I will continue to write reviews through the same lens as I hope others will consider my own writing in the future. Happy Reading!

Synopsis

Drugs, sex, and secret parties are only the beginning for Imane Giroud, an ethical hacker with a rebellious commitment to taking down corruption. In the middle of a hacking operation, her father points her to a man named Laurent Domine, a prominent art curator and member of one of the most secretive societies in the world, les Cardinaux. Imane thinks he is going to help her take down a chemical company called Oronics, but the meeting turns into something much, much more than that. Her hacking abilities and intellect make her the perfect candidate for recruitment into the Cardinals, a progressive secret society currently threatened by a radicalized group of six former members.
The group known as the Six, believes creativity is a danger to the world and will attempt anything to destroy the valuable cultural works that the Cardinals have in their possession. Artistry, hidden chambers, and masquerade parties are just some of the things that Imane Giroud encounters along the way, as she is the one chosen to keep the Cardinals safe. But not everything is as it seems, including her father.

What age were you when you realized you had a gift?

Maybe you haven’t gotten to that point in your life yet or

discovered your passion, but that’s okay.

Most people spend their entire lives looking for it, but never

really find it. I guess that’s okay too, but I wish you the best of luck in your exploration.

For me, it was when I was in high school. I was playing around on an iPad that I got as a Christmas gift from my parents when I went into the app store and found a writing application that I wanted to download.

I loved to write; I was creative.

I still am.

I played sports, got good grades, but there was nothing better

than going home, smoking marijuana, and writing.

The problem, however, was that the app cost twenty-five

dollars. Real American money. Twenty-five. This particular application lets you do everything, write, type, edit, add photos, add dancing characters. It was great. But I certainly wasn’t paying twenty-five dollars.

At the risk that the statute of limitations hasn’t expired on this sort of thing yet, I’ll tell you anyway. I got to the point in the process where the app store asks you for your credit card number. However, two weeks before this activity I was about to partake in, one of my

friends, Jillian, showed me an excellent hack to get around paying for applications like this.

She was a computer nerd, and she knew all of the latest hacking tricks and coding terminology. That stuff wasn’t my thing until that moment when she showed me. Besides smoking weed and writing, there probably isn’t anything else I love more than being able to put a real-life puzzle together.

But I digress.

She showed me a technique where you can open up the terminal on your device, and at the same time the app was open, put in a sophisticated line of code that would fool the app store into thinking you just entered a verified credit card number.

Fucking brilliant.

I was hooked.

I was always a rebel in my youth; I still am, but I wasn’t

rebellious in a way where I would get in trouble at school or at home. It was a sneaky rebellion, smoking marijuana in the days where my classmate’s parents called it the “devil’s lettuce” or drinking occasionally on the weekends. Authority for the sake of authority never sat well with me, so when Jillian showed me this hack, it just bordered the edge between too far and perfect.

I didn’t like stealing, never felt it was right, but I wasn’t paying twenty-five dollars to be able to write some stories.

I meticulously entered the line of code that she showed me into the terminal on the iPad. Not every app was the same, obviously, so

2

you had to change certain lines of the base code to correlate it with the specific program you were working on. In less than two minutes, the app store was tricked, and my writing program installed.

That was eight years ago.

Now I work as an advisor for the most secretive society in the world.

About the author

I'm a writer and an artist with a Master's degree in Government from Johns Hopkins University. view profile

Published on June 18, 2020

80000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Thriller & Suspense

Reviewed by

Enjoyed this review?

Get early access to fresh indie books and help decide on the bestselling stories of tomorrow. Create your free account today.

or

Or sign up with an email address

Create your account

Or sign up with your social account