Computer programs left behind by a dying inventor of video games spread dark mischief around the world, pitting gamers and enabled losers against the most powerful government agencies and businesses, with the geeks holding the best hands.
How do you really mess things up after you’re dead: tricky wills? entailments? trusts? Posthumous legal meddling is so last millennium. The modern way to carry out your wishes is to use a daemon, a computer program that lies dormant until other factors set it in motion. That’s precisely what mastermind Matthew Sobol did. Before he died of brain cancer, Sobol perfected a brilliant string of programming instructions that soon begin to claim victims. The first are a couple of high-level employees at CyberStorm, the Southern California corporation that controls and distributes Sobol’s hugely popular games. Detective Sergeant Peter Sebeck of the Ventura County sheriff’s department quickly learns (without exactly understanding how) that newspaper headlines can activate the Daemon, which throws switches that electrocute and decapitate. Seback and a growing number of state and federal forces follow the forensics to the late inventor’s mansion, which is murderously booby-trapped with a robotic Hummer and gasoline-spewing sprinkler heads. It becomes evident that Sobol’s Internet games are a herd of Trojan horses. When the Daemon turns on Sebeck and sticks him with the blame for this mess, the officer’s only backers are a brilliant NSA scientist and a Russian-born gamer.
Originally self-published, Suarez’s not-just-for-gamers debut is a stunner, with an ending that promises sequels to come.