A technological thriller focuses on a murky internet deal gone bad.
Jacob Costa believes his ex-wife, Simone Johns, has been dead for three days when he receives a text from her. The message is simple if troubling: Simone has been murdered, and Jacob needs to protect their son. She was a technological wizard who had been involved with elements of the “dark web”: the seedier sections of the internet, “where real sales happen and where everything is for sale.” Naturally, Simone kept her involvement in such affairs secret, and by all outward appearances, she spent her time contributing to the success of her educational software company, Safehaven. That Jacob has a son at all is news to him, particularly now that, with the death of Simone, the boy will be “sole heir to a multi-million-dollar company.” Jacob travels to Orlando, Florida, with his fiancee, the computer savvy and curvy Isabella Nunez, and their pit bull, Justice, to attempt to get things sorted out. In Orlando, Jacob meets his 8-year-old son, David, who is under the care of a friendly lawyer in a gated community called Sanctuary. David’s life is in danger, however, as it seems $85 million has gone missing from a project Simone was involved in. Will Jacob make sense of it all before it is too late? Bishop (Only a Woman Could…and She Did, 2017) skillfully shows the inherent dangers involved in the modern-day reliance on computers. Fiddling with systems that people take for granted—from landing airplanes to locking doors—can have vivid and severe consequences. But the characters involved in the narrative manage to be less distinctive than the machines they control. Where the prose should be edgy with its depictions of shady figures, it often becomes muddled. This is the case with a description of Simone and how “she wanted the big win, to be in the driver’s seat and she played in a pond where there were bigger sharks than her.” With such blunt portrayals, readers may be left with the impression that the main players are more akin to lines of code serving their functions than humans worth caring about.
While this story makes effective use of the dark side of technology, it lacks memorable human sentiments.