A cyberthriller by a Swedish screenwriter who seems to have a movie in mind.
One afternoon, the power goes out in Stockholm and surrounding areas, “leaving vast tracts of Sweden in total darkness.” Everything stops, right down to the espresso machines. An elevator suddenly drops 30 floors, killing a man. Though power returns, trouble continues. Sara Sandberg, a panicky homeless drug user, thinks she somehow caused the blackout just by putting a CD into a computer. Poor Sara is the “girl who didn’t know she was about to die.” Her father is William Sandberg, a top Swedish cryptologist who’s been fired for unauthorized snooping and is immediately suspected of being an internet terrorist. More attacks follow, briefly bathing most of Europe in “an all-consuming white-hot light.” Someone hacks nuclear reactors all around the world. There’s a chaotic exchange of data worldwide, as if “everyone attacked everyone.” But no one claims responsibility or makes demands. William winds up on Interpol’s Most Wanted list for “conspiracy to commit terrorism,” even though no one knows who put him there. Meanwhile, his estranged wife, Christina, a tabloid journalist, is looking to get to the bottom of everything. There are more crashing elevators, three CDs with piano concertos on them, shortwave radio stations broadcasting mysterious number sequences, and a secret program called Floodgate that’s supposed to “make the world a safer place.” As the suspense builds, it becomes clear that there is something much bigger going on than a string of incidents. One character asks, “How long will society survive?” Eventually, William has a key insight that gives a dramatic twist to the tale, showing great imagination on the author’s part. A few implausible details tie everything together, but they’re both necessary and fun.
Thriller fans will enjoy this one, and internet aficionados may wonder whether the ending is so implausible after all.