I was not exactly spoiled for choice for my final contribution to the crime fiction alphabet but it seems fitting to end off on a book that’s a little bit crime, a little bit sci-fi and a little bit thriller given that several of my contributions have bled into one or other of these sub-genres over the past few months.
Z4CK by Kevin Milne appealed to my inner geek. The book starts out in the near future in Edinburgh, Scotland and we see a future with some things I would dearly love to see (such as the flights to Australia from Scotland that take less than 3 hours) and other parts that I’m not so keen on (such as everyone carrying a single device that contains all of their personal information and a single company called Sec-Net having a monopoly on the security of that information). We then learn, in flashback, the story of Duncan Steele who created a program, called Z4CK which is an abbreviation for something I can’t remember, that allows him to bypass any network’s security and was nearly killed for it. Framed for a murder he did not commit Duncan has to use all his computer hacking skills to keep himself alive and out of jail.
The book is a great romp of an adventure and, apparently, very technically accurate which is not surprising given that Milne is a security expert and open source software pioneer. He says he wrote the entire novel on a wireless hand-held device during his morning commute on Scottish trains which, in the early 00’s must have gotten him a lot more raised eyebrows than would be the case now. This probably also explains the numerous typos in the book (nearly forgivable in the free PDF version but not quite so acceptable in the printed version that came out in 2004). There’s not a heck of a lot of character development but the plot is solid, if a little far-fetched, and thoroughly entertaining.
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Thanks to Kerrie at Mysteries in Paradise for hosting this fun meme and ensuring that even if I’ve posted nothing else during the week I’ve managed to pull something together each Monday for the last few months.