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.
The Machine is available for Kindle for just £1.97 and the sequel, The Noble Lie, is just £2.56 for Kindle.