The Devil's Code by John Sandford
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Kidd returns home from a fishing trip and immediately gets bad news. One of his hacking buddies was recently killed in Dallas while supposedly breaking into a software company that does a lot of cybersecurity work for the U.S. government. At the same time feds start a massive crackdown looking for a group of hackers going by the name of Firewall, and Kidd’s name is on the list along with several other friends of his even though they aren’t part of any organized group.
Fearing that they’re being set up to take the fall for some kind of shenanigans, Kidd recruits professional burglar LuEllen to help figure out how his dead friend is connected to Firewall through their usual methods of hacking and breaking into places to get information. As the pressure increases Kidd finds himself living like a fugitive as he tries to find a way to get the government to lay off the hackers.
This is another solid story featuring Kidd and LuEllen from Sandford, and they continue to be the kind of criminals that you really hope get away with it. There’s the usual clever scams and schemes, and Sandford makes what is essentially a conspiracy thriller plot still seem grounded and realistic. Most of all, it’s just fun to read.
This was published in 2000, and while Sandford usually does a great job of writing the tech stuff so that it doesn’t seem dated, but there’s a few aspects that haven’t aged well. There’s a plot point about how the NSA is concerned that increasingly sophisticated computer encryption is preventing them from tapping into communications so this was obviously written before the Patriot Act gave them the green light to spy on everybody. But that’s a minor complaint.
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