Book review: The Rare Earth Exchange


The Rare Earth Exchange

I introduced you to Bernard Besson in 2013 when I reviewed The Greenland Breach.
Now an award-winning thriller writer, he is “a former top-level chief of staff of the French intelligence services, an eminent specialist in economic intelligence and Honorary General Controller of the French National Police. He was involved in dismantling Soviet spy rings in France and Western Europe when the USSR fell and has real inside knowledge from his work auditing intelligence services and the police.”
So this guy knows what he is talking about in his novels!
Like The Greenland Breach, The Rare Earth Exchange is a spy thriller set in the web of international terrorism and corruption.


The book opens with a major plane accident: after having been hacked, an Airbus A340 coming from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, goes in flames after landing in Orly, Paris.
John Spencer Larivière (already met in The Greenland Breach) and his wife Victoire are interrupted in the midst of their young son baptism celebration to investigate. The couple and their geeky friend Luc run Fermatown, a private intelligence agency.
Then shortly after, former French president Noblecourt, who had pretended to be on that very flight, is discovered by his wife Georgette, hanging in his office. Suicide? Murder? Why?
What’s really the connection between the Noblecourts and Malaysia?
As the Fermatown team digs deeper, they found themselves stuck in a huge and very dangerous web, involving many countries, many high profile political figures (ambassadors, ministers of home and foreign affairs, defense ministers, plus a Chinese lawyer working on high-profile crimes), terrorists and crooks.

Can they even trust Noblecourt’s wife, who seems to be lying? As for Claudine Montluzac, a police chief also investigating, it’s not until the very end that they’ll know for sure on which side she stands.

The plot gets more and more involved. You’d better make a list of characters to keep track.

There are also a lot of different groups:
Chronosphere, a Paris-based company specializing in precision industrial clocks;
G. Terres, an international organization to regulate rare-earths market;
Palatinate, a powerful credit-rating agency).
Yes, there’s a connection between all of these, and many more, such as for instance a kickback scheme related to the sale of French submarines to Malaysia.

If you go over the hurdle of the complexity and multiplicity of actors involved, you will find the book very enjoyable, with all kinds of cool geeky details – for instance how to protect your phone from being detected.
I discovered a lot about cybertechnology, cybercrimes and cyberterrorism. There’s so much out there we don’t even imagine could exist! I also learned about virtual autopsies, which I had never heard about before.
And there were neat descriptions of Kuala Lumpur, though I’m not sure what I found out would give me the desire to visit.

VERDICT: Complex spy story involving international cybercrimes. Smart, suspenseful, geeky, it will keep you on the edge of your seat.

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Author: Bernard Besson
Translator: Sophie Weiner
US publication: 2/16/2016
by Le French Book
Le partage des terres
was first published in France in 2013
Pages: 274
Mystery / Thriller / Spy


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In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this ebook free of charge from the publisher through NetGalley.
I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer, and the thoughts are my own.

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2 thoughts on “Book review: The Rare Earth Exchange

  1. Pingback: 2017: January wrap-up | Words And Peace

  2. Pingback: Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2017 | Words And Peace

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