BACK\SLASH by William H. Lovejoy

BACK\SLASH

Email this review

KIRKUS REVIEW

 Paperback vet Lovejoy makes his hardcover debut a memorable occasion with an ultracool, swiftly paced tale of cyberspace chicanery. When a seemingly mad hacker launches an escalating campaign of destruction against the world's computers, industrial nations view the threat as serious enough to warrant establishment of an international task force in London. The American representative is Peter Martin, an upper-echelon CIA operative whose principal Stateside contact is Luanne Russell, head of the FBI's Computer Crimes Squad. While the multinational group gets organized, the vagabond vandal (whose user ID is a frowning face) strikes again and again; with but a few keystrokes, phone networks are disabled, interbank fund transfers come to a halt, databases are lost forever, NATO's satellite links rendered inoperative, and an arms dealer's ill-gotten gains transferred from his Swiss account to the Red Cross. In desperation, Luanne recruits maverick computer whiz Kirk Conrad, a man she'd jailed some years previously. Though suspicious of the government's motives, Conrad eventually accepts the challenge. To track down the saboteur (who's gone on to wreak high-tech havoc in Singapore, South America, and the missile silos of nuclear powers), Conrad (a.k.a. Renegade) hacks into GlobeNet, a supersecure commercial alternative to the Internet that's operated out of Zurich. Meantime, Luanne finds that she is working at cross purposes with shifty Peter, who wants the culprit's virulent software and viruses for his own agency. At the eleventh hour, however, Renegade (with a helping hand from his G-woman accomplice) manages to foil, if not identify, the perverse programmer, as Peter and a motley crew of computer cops stage an inconclusive raid on an Alpine redoubt. There's a fine, fairly played twist at the close, which could induce some readers to examine their predilection for sexist deduction. A grand user-friendly yarn that gives new meaning to the words computer error.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1996
ISBN: 1-57566-081-4
Page count: 432pp
Publisher: Kensington
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 1996