Thursday, November 20, 2014

404 by J. G. Sandom

404.  J. G. Sandom. Cornucopia Press.  November 2014. 331 pp. paperback and e-book. ISBN #: 9780985695484.

John Decker, a cryptanalyst forensic examiner, is working at the National Counter-Terrorism Center when some violent, strange occurrences begin throughout America.  Right before they begin, a number of crimes happen where the perpetrator is caught on camera and to Decker looks like his old Arab nemesis who was thought to be dead, El Aqrab.  Decker and his family soon become the target and indeed messages seem to be luring Decker into danger and at the same time are compelling him to discovery the mystery behind Aqrab’s reappearance. 

Two planes collide; a nuclear reactor has a disastrous shutdown of its most protective technology; the government’s defense system is easily hacked, and more disasters affecting thousands of Americans lead this country to the brink of physical, political and financial disaster. 

Decker is drawn to receive the help of a Chinese computer expert, Xin Liu (known to all as Lulu).  At the same time Decker’s career is in jeopardy as it is beginning to look like there’s a mole in his department and it looks like it’s him.  This is another mystery as there is a period of his life involving his first encounter with Aqrab when something happened to him that he doesn’t remember.  He actually wonders if he’s going mad.  Lulu helps him to pursue the answers to his multiple questions as his personal life parallels the national disasters growing larger and larger by the minute!  Lulu’s a funky, unpredictable character, is an evolving wonder of a character who easily matches the skills of any expert on computers and martial arts as well!

This novel addresses the well-known, but little understood by the average person, issues of cyber-hacking and cyber-terrorism.  For those who are computer buffs, you’ll be in your glory as there are explanations galore about the technology of hacking and how the Internet keeps systems flowing or breaking throughout the world.  For those not as computer savvy as the experts, there’s enough riveting action and nail-biting intensity with each new level added to the complex plot to keep you flipping the pages and reading faster than you can imagine!

This reviewer has been reviewing J. G. Sandom’s novels over the years and must say this is his BEST story yet.  The most harrowing part of it all is that it’s REAL and we may be closer to this story’s coming to pass than we ever imagined!  It’s not a game at all!  404 is a best-selling crime thriller that is sure to please any reader who loves a great story with layers of depth and thrills.  It would also make one heck of a movie!  Congratulations, J. G. Sandom!  404 is a gem of a read!

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