This electrifying debut thriller delivers a gripping tale of Big Brother gone mad amid a modern world on the verge of endless war. Brimming with high-powered suspense, here is the brilliant, frighteningly believable story of three masterminds locked on a breathtaking collision cours--the outcome of which will determine the fate of the United States.
Circumference of Darkness
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 uberhacker; 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 the Hardcover edition.
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. (June 26) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 25, 2007
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Excerpt from Circumference of Darkness by Jack Henderson
Jeannie Reese looked out through the tint of the wide conference room window, took a deep breath in, closed her eyes, and exhaled on an eight-count. All hell was breaking loose throughout the building. But here of all places, didn't business still have to be done?
Her meeting had been interrupted by the news of the attacks on the World Trade Center. Sixteen minutes ago she'd called a ten-minute break, and her audience had scattered like fifth-graders at the bell on the last day of school.
Sixteen wasted minutes, Jeannie thought, and by all evidence you're the only one on the floor with your wits about you. There's work to be done, and this act of war only underscores the urgency of that work.
People are dying, yes, I understand. People die every day. If I'm the only one who sees the need to keep my head on straight, so be it. I will not be terrorized. We must focus. Extraordinary times demand extraordinary people.
That word--extraordinary--had been yoked to her for as long as she could remember. By age 10, she had achieved more notoriety as a theoretical heurist than the combined army of Princeton mathematicians they'd deployed to evaluate her. She had been a rare find--a true math prodigy and a computer wunderkind wrapped in a single, recruitable unit.
Before she'd hit puberty, she had proven herself capable of thinking deeper and wider than the best in the field, and a precocious Mozart in the emerging art of differential cryptanalysis. And though she had only achieved legal drinking age last year, it was Jeannie's charge to design and marshal the government's eyes and ears in the electronic battle zone, translating what she saw, suspected, or forecast into the language and tactics of warfare.
And she got things done. The day she'd met Don Rumsfeld, a few days after his appointment as Secretary of Defense in the new administration, he'd given her his signature squint and intoned, "And you, young lady, I'm led to understand that you are the grand mistress of the instrumentality."
Damn right, Rummy.
Today's presentation was the culmination of six years of work, her grand unified strategy for security in the age of electronic warfare. The broad concepts of TIA, or Total Information Aware- ness, had been floating around since she'd proposed them in her first months with the Agency, and this morning she was to make a strong case for final approval and deployment of the whole shebang. In a nutshell, TIA would link all the US intelligence data, foreign and domestic, into a single cyber-supermind.
At the same time, the proposal would revoke or relax most of the outdated and overliberal privacy protections granted to the burgeoning millions of Internet users. These rights were a treacherous holdover from the days when most online citizens were themselves government entities: it was way past time to tighten the screws.
But things moved so slowly. The glacial pace of government galled her on a daily basis, as did the impassible walls that had been erected between factions of the intelligence community. Tens of billions were being spent on duplicate research. Parallel departments refused to collaborate for fear of getting their lunch eaten by rivals for budget dollars. The result was an almost perfect lack of communication. But TIA would fix that, too.
This morning's terrorist attack only confirmed that the time had come to circle the wagons and make security our nation's prime directive. We had long needed to act with authority, to do some unpleasant and unpopular things in order to avoid some truly unthinkable consequences in the future. And today the unthinkable had finally happened.
She shot a signal to Rudy Steinman, her boy Friday, to go into the hall and muster the meeting back to order.