The Anonymous Signal
The FBI is faced with an infrastructure meltdown when a villainous hacker creates a super-virus and hides behind the disparate group which brands itself with the Anonymous moniker. As the established order breaks down and martial law is imposed, the off-reservation methodology that an FBI cybercrimes chief has been forced to employ is scrutinized. He and members of his team are forced to defend themselves and their actions in a military-style trial.
There is a lot to like about this book. Not only is the plot rich with detail and cleverly executed, but the devices used adds much to the enjoyment of the read and is a big plus. Two plotlines alternate. One is the trial itself; questions are put to the defendant and witnesses, and of course raised in the reader. This builds suspense as to what actually happened. This is further enhanced by the format used: a reproduction of the court transcripts from the trial, parts of which have been redacted. The second strand of this cleverly-woven plot flashes back to actual events as if in real time to receive the answers to the questions previously raised, all of which is extremely satisfying.
Less successful is the characterization of the main protagonist. Character and voice are the lifeblood of fiction and, in particular, crime fiction. No one remembers a great plot. Readers buy into a character. Herein lies the problem. We do not get a clear insight into the lead. There is no internal monologue, no psychological trajectory, hell, he’s not even the most interesting character presented, and there are some characters of interest in this story. The trouble is they do not have any real depth to them either. I would even question why the most interesting character isn’t the lead. Perhaps a developmental editor would have advised upon having the story restructured in order to rectify this. Creating a character we do not get to know, results in a cut-out who it is very difficult to come to care about. Therefore, one half of the page-turning suspense equation is missing. The suspense is built in that questions are raised and answered, but would have been increased enormously had we become properly invested in a protagonist whose conflicts, goals, and desires, which should power a story, had been inextricably intertwined with the plot.
All that having been said, the excellent, detailed plot, and clever storytelling devices do sustain enough to facilitate engagement, so for the commensurate enjoyment this novel provides it fully deserves its four stars. But the truism prevails that crime fiction lives or dies, in terms of longevity, on a really memorable character.
|Page Count||516 pages|
|Publisher||Twice Pi Press|
|Bookshop.org||Buy this Book|
|Category||Mystery, Crime & Thriller|