Circumference of Darkness by Jack Henderson (Bantam) In 1993, a legendary hacker known only as 'phr33k" outlined a far-fetched plan for the ultimate terrorist attack, in a members-only online chat room. Eight years later, he awoke on September 11, 2001 to see the World Trade Center in flames and his casual brainstorm materializing into a murderous reality.
Among the injured in the Pentagon strike was 22-year-old Jeannie Reese, former child prodigy and current lead designer in the government's Total Information Awareness program. As the response is mobilized, she receives a green light to activate her pet project, ARGOS, an above-top-secret, omnipresent domestic surveillance system. She soon uncovers phr33k's years-old blueprint for September 11th, and Jeannie sets out to track down this dark figure of the Internet underground and bring him to justice for his role.
But the hunt soon leads Jeannie down an alarming trail of
revelations: the terrorists are gathering again, they achieved only
a fraction of their aims on 9/11, and a massive follow-up attack is
coming, designed by the most formidable mind she's ever encountered,
conceived to bring about the end of the United States of America.
Twenty-two-year-old Jeannie Reese is a computer wunderkind—and the
top architect of next-generation security for the Department of
Defense. Her latest brainchild is IRIN, the most powerful
surveillance technology ever developed. To date, IRIN has remained
ultraclassified and inactive. But on the day a shocking act of
terrorism strikes U.S. shores, the presidential order comes to
launch Jeannie’s creation against the dark forces behind the attack.
Known only as Phr33k, forty-one-year-old John Fagan is a legendary, reclusive computer hacker. For years he has expertly hidden himself while operating freely within the shadows of the Internet’s background noise. He has remained in complete seclusion despite his infamy as the author of a slew of massive electronic crimes—and despite his long-ago, now eerily prophetic, scenarios of terrorist warfare against America.
Under Jeannie’s direction, IRIN gathers and analyzes endless
data—and unearths Phr33k. If she is to stop the next stage of a
terror campaign clearly begun years before, Jeannie will have to
find the überhacker; but that is only the beginning. For she soon
discovers that Phr33k is being held by the leader of a vast
terrorist network, who now plans to use this unique genius to
conceive and deliver his final, fatal blow: a devastating nationwide
wave of unparalleled destruction.
For his part, Phr33k is used to working alone. But all that will have to change.
He has a new challenge, one unlike any he’s faced before: how to provide Jeannie Reese with one outrageous, impossible shot to short-circuit the perfect, unstoppable scheme he so masterfully—and so unwillingly—helped to create.
From Publishers Weekly: Henderson's uneven debut marks another
addition to the growing list of post-9/11 thrillers in which
home-grown radical elements within the United States, not Islamic
fundamentalists, pose a terrorist threat. Jeannie Reese, a
22-year-old Department of Defense computer genius, has developed a
powerful surveillance technology she hopes can thwart an impending
attack. The terrorists, led by racist Edward Latrell, who ran for
president in 1976, are holed up in a compound in Colorado, though
their tentacles of sympathizers stretch all around the country. They
plan to hit the U.S. all at once through a highly developed plan of
coordinated attacks coast to coast. Reese, however, has assembled a
crack team of techies intent on saving the nation and restoring
order. Though well researched, Henderson's plot eventually crumbles
into confusion and overly technical detail. Along the way, too many
silly asides—including the notoriously chaste Reese's fumbling
romance and eventual drunken sex with a navy lieutenant—tend to
break the otherwise admirable tension.
A Fractured Truth: A Novel by Caroline
Slate (Atria Books) Seven years ago Grace
Leshansky, the protagonist in a novel of psychological suspense,
A Fractured Truth, written by Caroline Slate,
killed her charismatic con man husband Paul Boudreau, whose final
game had dealt her shattering losses. Firing the gun was an act of
the moment: the fury of a true believer stripped of her last shred
of belief. In a state of shock she called the police, pleaded guilty
and went to prison for manslaughter. Manslaughter: to Grace’s ear
the slaughter of a man sounded worse, more damning, than murder. It
Now she is out of prison—indelibly changed.
Formerly a successful jewelry designer, Grace struggles against
despair in a world empty of everything she held dear—except for
Sheilah, her best friend since grade school. Sheilah’s unfailing
devotion helps Grace in her search for a way to live with the past
and in the present—too many memories and a few urgent, dangerous,
Grace copes with, among other things, an unsympathetic parole officer who's probably the victim of domestic abuse and an unethical tabloid reporter who relentlessly hounds her about penning a memoir. The narrative flashes back to different stages of Grace's life: her marriage to Paul; an unusual childhood with her grifter father George (who was possibly murdered while she was in prison); her first love, of a callow blueblood who beds and abandons her.
What really happened to her father, the gambler with mob ties,
who disappeared shortly before she shot Paul? Is he alive and in
hiding or dead, killed perhaps by the man who was her first love to
prevent him from turning FBI witness?
A Fractured Truth, which comes on like a high-stakes
thriller, yet becomes a searching character study, is a
twisting, charged story of love and trust turned inside out, and of
friendship. It is an unforgettable portrait of a complex woman who
can’t stop believing.
There is a name carved into the Vietnam Memorial in Washington,
D.C., of an American army lieutenant whose death is shrouded in
mystery. The authorities have reason to believe that he was not
killed by the enemy, or by friendly fire; they suspect he was
At first, Paul Brenner, himself a Vietnam vet, isn't interested
in investigating the case. After his forced retirement from the
army's Criminal Investigation Division, he has adapted to the life
of a civilian with a comfortable pension. Then his old boss, Karl
Hellmann, summons him to the Vietnam Memorial to call in a career's
worth of favors. Hellmann tells Brenner of the circumstances
surrounding the officer's death, and gives him this much to go on:
The incident happened over three decades ago in Vietnam; the only
evidence is a recently discovered letter written by an enemy soldier
describing an act of shocking violence. The name of the North
Vietnamese soldier is known, but not his present whereabouts, or
even if he is alive or dead.
Brenner's assignment: Return to Vietnam and find the witness. The
addendum: The mission is very important to the U.S. Army. Brenner's
the ideal man for the job. And it's in his best interest that he
doesn't know what this case is really about.
Reluctantly, Brenner begins a strange journey that unearths his
own painful memories of Vietnam and leads him down a trail as
dangerous as the ones he walked a lifetime ago as a young
infantryman. From sultry, sinful Saigon, where he meets beautiful
American expatriate Susan Weber, to the remote, forbidding
wilderness of up-country Vietnam, he will follow a trail of lies,
betrayal, and murder-and uncover an explosive, long-buried secret.
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