Friday, October 4, 2013

Fatal Transaction


W. Richard Lawrence

Reviewed by Donn Taylor, author of Deadly Additive, Rhapsody in Red, etc.

              Derry Conway, age 23, is an accountant haunted by a dysfunctional childhood and the murder of his teenage sweetheart, Tami, by a drug gang. In a restaurant while taking a supper break from an audit, he sees a young woman who closely resembles the dead Tami. Fascinated, he watches her and the restaurant owner, and as he watches he becomes convinced the two are involved in illegal activity involving credit cards.

              The woman is Sara, an expert computer hacker who has been blackmailed into playing a key role in a vast credit card scheme. The false cards are pouring millions into the hidden overseas bank accounts of Ulrich Levy. Levy's legitimate businesses are failing, but his criminal activities are prospering, thanks to Sara. She wants out, but there is a problem: no one either fails or leaves Levy's employ and lives to tell about it. Sara has been forced to witness the execution of one of Levy's criminal employees, and she doesn't want to be next.

              So Sara makes elaborate plans for escape to a foreign country, complete with change of identity and her own theft of millions of dollars out of Levy's hidden accounts. But as she begins executing the plans, she is captured and beaten by Levy's strong-arm men. By chance, Derry sees her capture. At great risk, he aids her escape and hides her at his own home.

              From that point, friendship develops between Derry and the untrusting Sara, while she continues plans for escape that include deceiving Derry, her benefactor. Levy's attempts to recapture Sara become more desperate and more violent as her timed computer raids on his accounts take more and more of his ill-gotten riches. The author skillfully plays move against counter-move, increasing tension until the action explodes in a fitting climax.

              W. Richard Lawrence's career as an electrical engineer make him particularly well-qualified to write a computer-centered suspense novel. He gives sufficient detail of Sara's hacking exploits to be convincing, but without becoming too technical for the average reader. He also shows himself a master of fictional plotting, with each twist more imaginative than the last. The result is a thoroughly readable suspense thriller that will keep readers turning pages through to the satisfying resolution.

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