Surveillance has a fast-paced fugitive plot and a topic that concerns us all--the power of the government (or in this case, a shadow agency of the government) to monitor everything about our lives. Even if we eschew social media, we are available online because banks, hospitals, libraries, and stores of all kinds are online.
Plot: Chris Bruen and partner Zooey Doucet are ready to open their new law office, but the first client who walks in changes everything.
Ian Ayres, an "ethical hacker," is hired to do an online security check and discovers a secret government surveillance agency. His life is quickly disrupted, and he is in danger. He refuses to go into detail with Chris Bruen in the office, insisting that they walk outside. Even as they walk, Ayres checks for parabolic mics. Chris thinks Ayres is a nut case, but when they return to the office to find his receptionist and researcher dead, both Chris and Ayres are on the run. Zooey, out of the office when the murders occurred, must also disappear.
The plot gets a little fantastic with hired assassins from the shadow agency monitoring every move that the two men make and Zooey seeking help from a hacker that plans to steal millions from a drug cartel (wish the author had left that part out).
My main interest was in the tech involved and the means available to track any targeted individual through accessing phone calls, emails, and CCTV cameras.
While I realize that this is fiction and that it would not be as easy as the book makes it seem, I know that when I Google something or buy a book or make an online purchase, that information is an open door for those who know how to gain entry. Ads for items I have purchased show up on almost any page I view online. If I research certain phrases like Sharia Law, that interest is out there.
Does it make you uncomfortable, knowing how much information about you can be accessed? For me, most of the time it doesn't make me uneasy--because I am not a criminal or a terrorist. But the premise of the book is that even if you are innocent, you could be targeted for some reason, and like it or not, almost anything about your life is accessible.
Do I think this is a great book? No. I was much less interested in characters or plot than in the idea of cyber spying. The book has, however, made me think a bit more about the NSA and the ability to abuse collected data.
Reece Hirsch is the author of four thrillers that draw upon his background as a privacy attorney. His first book, The Insider, was a finalist for the 2011 International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel. His next three books, The Adversary, Intrusion, and Surveillance, all feature former Department of Justice cybercrimes prosecutor Chris Bruen. Hirsch is a partner in the San Francisco office of an international law firm and cochair of its privacy and cybersecurity practice.
I'm also adding No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA, and the U.S. Surveillance State to my list of nonfiction that I'd like to read.
We all want to be safe, but the history of power and corruption is long and documented.
:0 This is another example of a book that was just a few hours of escapism sending me off in another direction. I was going to make this a really brief review--book was OK, kept me involved for a few hours...and look what happened!
NetGalley/Thomas & Mercer
Suspense/Conspiracy. March 15, 2016. Print length: 299 pages.