“What if all your secrets were put online? Sam Morpeth is growing up way too fast, left to fend for a younger sister with learning difficulties when their mother goes to prison and watching her dreams of university evaporate. But Sam learns what it is to be truly powerless when a stranger begins to blackmail her online, drawing her into a trap she may not escape alive. Who would you turn to? Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane has finally got his career back on track, but his success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Now that debt is being called in, and it could cost him everything. What would you be capable of? Thrown together by a common enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they have more in common than they realise – and might be each other’s only hope.”
Jack’s back in a techno, cyber-crime thriller that is like nothing I’ve ever read before. The book starts with what seems like two different stories, when we meet teenager Sam Morpeth, left caring for her younger sister with learning difficulties when their mum goes to prison for drug offences. Sam is being bullied at school and being harassed by her mother’s drug dealers for an outstanding debt, and is struggling to cope. Sam’s only escape is online chat rooms and fantasy role-playing games where she feels she can really be herself. Jack Parlabane is in London thanks to a new job that could put his career right back on track and show him as a credible journalist. When one of the countries biggest banks RSGN falls victim to a cyber-attack Jack gets a scoop with an exclusive interview with one of the most notorious hackers known only as “Buzzkill”. Jack and Sam’s lives are about to collide when Sam falls victim to a blackmailing hacker and she contacts Jack for help having read his story on the bank, feeling there is no one else she can turn to. The unlikely duo are thrown into a world of the dark web, hacking and corporate espionage.
This is a fast paced and compelling thriller and the eighth in the Jack Parlabane series. Where no online transaction is truly safe and cyber hacking can lead to the destruction of entire corporations, Christopher Brookmyre has created a brilliantly plotted nightmare scenario. If you don’t already have a fear of who or what lurks online, then you soon will after reading this. As the main theme is hacking, the book contains a lot about the techniques and the circumventing of security systems, and a lot of technical terms are used, and at times I felt bogged down with it. I like to think of myself as quite tech-savvy, but this book took things to a whole new level.
The story is narrated from both Jack’s and Sam’s point of view, two interesting characters with a very different background and set of actions. There are some thrilling and nail-biting chapters, a genuine sense of threat and layer upon layer of mystery and deceit. Brookmyre also cleverly plays with stereotypes and assumptions for some neat but very plausible surprises. There are a few twists and turns along the way to keep you guessing where the story is going, and the tension mounts up into a shocking climax.
Tense, twisty and very edgy, Want You Gone combines Brookmyre’s best loved character with a new partner to create a racy and compelling must-read thriller.
Thanks to Chris Brookmyre, Little Brown UK, and NetGalley for the advanced reader copy.