A hacker recently escaped from prison uses his skills to find the individual who framed him in Cohen’s debut techno-thriller.
Though Dan File wants a lucrative career, he and his football-player roommate, Braxton Johnson, start their freshman year at Georgia Tech in an unproductive marijuana haze. Dan’s love of computers and hacking, however, becomes his true focus. He tweaks Brax’s grades and helps the football team (and his gambling odds) by sneaking a peak at the other teams’ plays. Both Dan and Brax ultimately get caught and take early exits from Georgia Tech. Thankfully, former college pal Will Goings brings in Dan on a startup tech company, LineSpeed. But the real opportunity for success is Dan and Will’s idea for substantially boosting wireless communications. This is followed months later by a bombshell: Dan is the suspect in a double homicide. His conviction and subsequent prison-bus ride reunites him with Brax, in for a bar fight that turned deadly. When the bus crashes, the two friends, along with other inmates, flee the scene. They hide as best they can, but soon Dan begins hunting for the person who’s made him a patsy for murder. Though the thrills in this techno-thriller don’t materialize for some time, Cohen fosters tension by opening with the prison-bus crash. This allows narrator Dan to tease upcoming events, from the murder rap to his stunted college life. Dan’s jargon-heavy dialogue is devoid of pretension; he’s merely relaying what he’s doing or listing equipment specs. And his best hacks are pranks, like slightly altering his boss’s email text (“your” to “you’re,” etc.). Most characters leave a mark, including the convicts. Disappointingly, women are largely absent; the only female of significance is a romantic interest whom Dan hardly knows.
Persistently appealing tale with a good-natured protagonist, even when he’s breaking the law.