Brogan’s (Breathe, 2017, etc.) thriller involves a diabolical plot against a car company.
Madison McKean-Jordan’s Manhattan-based agency, Turner Advertising, has just earned a huge win. She’s landed Global Vehicles as a client, whose business will mean hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue. Turner’s first assignment is an ad campaign for GV’s upcoming line of electric “XCars,” which feature a “revolutionary long-range battery system” that will save drivers thousands of dollars in fuel costs annually. Unfortunately, a shady scheme to ensure the company’s failure is already underway. A powerful oilman has enlisted a disgruntled GV ex-employee, Robert Bruner, to hack the Wi-Fi–enabled XCars, seize control of them, and cause accidents. Bruner also has a personal motive, as he blames GV for the vehicular deaths of his wife and their daughter. As GV executives and workers search for what’s causing the apparent malfunctions, Madison looks to her friend, GV engineer Brooke Daniels, for help. Brooke is able to provide information that puts authorities closer to the people spearheading the XCar hacks, but it also makes her and Madison targets. Bruner, meanwhile, is cooking up a deadlier plan of his own. Madison, who headlined Brogan’s 2010 novel Madison’s Avenue, and Brooke are both engaging characters, and the story’s villains are similarly well-developed. Some of the latter even have sympathetic backstories, and more than one bad guy later has misgivings about the results of the vehicular mishaps. The author deftly builds tension as Bruner’s agenda slowly comes to light and never allows characters’ periodic technical explanations to slow the pace. The remote-access threat is both topical and frighteningly realistic. However, it’s hard to believe that certain characters, such as Madison, are initially completely oblivious to such a possibility.
A tight, entertaining story with a convincing, real-world menace.