In this techno-thriller, a Russian oligarch’s elaborate cyberplan threatens to generate chaos on a worldwide scale.
When Washington, D.C., reporter Rebecca Taft covertly meets with a hacker, all she has to show for it is a cryptic list of dates. But she quickly realizes the dates correspond with terrorist strikes, and the latest two imply future attacks. She gives the information to U.S. government agencies, which already have some intel. Agents, for one, have their eyes on shady American attorney Frank Cooper, who recently met with arms dealer Philippe Lamont. But the U.S. wants Cooper’s boss, a Russian whom the agencies have yet to identify. Readers know he’s Constantine Petrenko, who’s spearheading the planned assaults. The Russian has numerous people in his employ, though the most alarming may be Paula Janković. The hacker is in the process of perfecting The Selfish Ledger, which amasses individuals’ data in order to predict and even control behavior. Despite the fact that Taft and the U.S. agencies know the specific date of the first strike, they’re oblivious as to where or what it will be. And no one in any country is prepared for the full extent of the attack. Though character discourse constitutes the bulk of Wood’s (Asshole Attorney, 2018, etc.) novel, the story moves at a frantic pace. This is primarily due to perpetually shifting perspectives, as Petrenko’s scheme involves a multitude of players. Regardless, some characters stand out, particularly sleazy Cooper, who drinks martinis at any time of the day, and Janković, whose skills at digital manipulation make her more menacing than Petrenko. Exhilarating action finally emerges once the tale reaches the anticipated date, which entails surprising deaths among established characters. But the most unsettling aspect of Wood’s story is its believability; not only is The Selfish Ledger a real-life concept, but the villains’ easy manipulation of people via social media is a convincing turn. The ending, though definitive, leaves room for a sequel.
A taut tale of a global attack that’s both gripping and frighteningly plausible.