Back Slash

William H. Lovejoy, Author
William H. Lovejoy, Author Kensington Publishing Corporation $21.95 (0p) ISBN 978-1-57566-081-3
Reviewed on: 09/02/1996
Release date: 09/01/1996
Mass Market Paperbound - 528 pages - 978-0-7860-0437-9
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During a three-week period, an unknown computer hacker robs, ruins or shuts down various computer systems, starting with one in a small bank in New Mexico. The mysterious whiz even gets into the system of the National Security Agency, and at one point has governments frantically disconnecting their nuclear weapons from their computers. Pitted against him are, primarily, Luanne Russell, Special Agent in the FBI's Computer Crimes Squad, and genius hacker K.C. Conrad, a convicted felon on the lam whom Luanne impresses into service. In his hardcover debut, Lovejoy (Red Rain, etc.) painstakingly details every tap of the keyboard or move of the mouse made by his characters, who use their computers at every opportunity. The narrative employs a variety of typefaces, representing words on computer monitors, as it tells its tale in well-defined spurts, with each splash of words timed to the second (""DATE: SAT OCT 17 07:47:35 USERID: montana""). Perhaps computer mavens won't find this excessive, but likely even they will be disappointed with the coy denouement. Lovejoy knows computers inside-out and so will readers after surfing his pages, which present abundant and often fascinating digital lore. But stripped of its cyber-trappings, this is a routine thriller; and those not already in thrall to the silicon god might end up wishing that the operative word here wasn't back\slash, but backspace. (Sept.)
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