Hide and Seek
H. L. Wegley
It’s a minor security breach at National Aerospace in Washington state, but one that must be investigated: a single classified document left in a printer by a foreign national employee who shouldn’t have had access in the first place. Lee Brandt gets the assignment: investigate over the weekend and report on Monday. Lee checks the company laptop assigned to the foreign national, who has departed the country. There he finds Trojan horse malware that he can’t decipher. So he calls his former professor, who provides Jennifer Akihara, a computer genius who has worked for both the FBI and NSA.
Jennifer not only deciphers the Trojan horse, but finds that it leads to terrorist contacts outside the United States. Unfortunately, she disables the Trojan. So when she and Lee leave the building, they are marked for death by waiting terrorists. The terrorists bomb Lee’s car and give chase when Lee and Jennifer try to escape in hers. The chase forces the pair away from possible help into the mountains of the Washington countryside. There Lee’s boyhood knowledge of a mountain and its caves gives him temporary advantage over the terrorists. From that point in the narrative, the author’s detailed knowledge of caves and spelunking provides a chill-packed account of his hero and heroine’s attempts to escape their pursuers, resulting in a thrilling climax and a resolution very different from any I’ve encountered in suspense novels.
But interest is not limited to details of suspense, for the contrast of hero and heroine leads to built-in conflicts. He is a Christian who gave up the dating game years ago. She is a strikingly beautiful agnostic repelled by male responses to her beauty rather than to her character and talents. Their contrasting viewpoints precipitate delightful discussions that go both broader and deeper than those of the usual CBA novel.
The book is also aided by the author’s personal acquaintance with industrial problems such as outsourcing, and he shows good knowledge of real-life security clearances and procedures as well as intimate knowledge of computers. He is able to explain these complex subjects in terms that the ordinary layman can understand. These qualities and the quickly moving narrative maintain high interest throughout the novel. All in all, a very good performance in the author’s debut novel.
Reviewed by Donn Taylor, author of Deadly Additive, The Lazarus File, etc.