Debut novelist Hays delivers a dynamic cyberthriller featuring glamorous settings and a delightful female protagonist.
From the moment readers meet genius cryptographer Dee Lockwood, mischievously swiping a bottle of champagne from a plush private jet, they’ll know they’re in for a good time. She soon becomes enmeshed in a top-level conspiracy involving an off-the-books U.S. military operation—and some enthralling personal-assistant software. Her colleague on the plane downloads the software, the titular Beta, to Lockwood’s phone moments before bumbling hijackers put him into a coma, and Lockwood quickly finds herself fleeing from Black Ops agents. She gets assistance from a dashing British software salesman with some suspiciously adroit espionage skills She also calls in a favor from an old college pal involved with an international hacker organization called the Substructure; he helps her unlock the mystery behind her new person-of-interest status. But her greatest asset is Beta’s amazing artificial intelligence; it not only books plane tickets at a moment’s notice, but also, quite literally, guides Lockwood through car chases, burglaries and gutsy escapes. Readers may never look at their iPhones the same way again—although some tech-savvy readers may raise an eyebrow at Beta’s “adaptive fuzzy logic.” Hays provides sumptuous descriptions of each of Lockwood’s half-dozen international locations, although such richness occasionally slows the action and adds unneeded heft to the book’s 39 chapters. However, the author depicts a female character not often seen in the cyberthriller genre: an independent, sassy protagonist unafraid of striking out on her own, leaving colorful male accomplices in her wake. When she’s not hacking into government databases or leading an Alpine high-speed chase, she’s slipping into designer disguises and freshening her manicure. She even calls family members and her cat sitter as she evades murderous military men from Bangalore to Rio de Janeiro.
Lighthearted fun with a quick-witted heroine and her astounding smartphone app.