There Is No Cloud
© 2021 Kat Wheeler
Okay, Google, I’d like to set up a Routine. When I am murdered alone in my office, please call the police, unlock the door, and turn off the coffee pot. Matt Rodriguez is the inventor of the HomeTechHub, a network-integrated device with an inbuilt AI which can control any smart device in its same network – from lights to window shades. It’s made Matt and his partners ludicrously rich, but all the automation in the world didn’t stop someone from swiping their way into the building, sneaking into his office, and whacking him with an old fashioned crowbar. Detective Will Justus is assigned to investigate the murder, while simultaneously Cam, a bourbon-sipping saleswoman turned with a question bugging her is poking into a defective Hub to find out why it’s not playing nice with the network. What she discovers will risk forcing her to share a fate with the hub’s creator. There is No Cloud does double duty as a murder mystery and a tech-thriller, centered on the amount of information digital assistants and smart devices can corral about their users.
Despite the apparent creepiness of a mic’d-up device sitting in one’s home, passively listening our every word and sending it off to Amazon or Google, over half of Americans regularly use a voice assistant — through their phones, if nothing else, using them for everyday tasks like shopping, calendars, and media interaction. There is No Cloud focuses on how vulnerable we can be if these devices are compromised – or deliberately used against us, to chilling effect. Although I’m a little skeptical of the book’s over-powered Home Tech Hubs (which integrate with any third-party smarttech, and once on the network have Total Access to anything that on the same network, permissions or encryption be damned). There Is No Cloud succeeds in creating a story based on the potential for abuse inherent in these devices. and each main character’s private investigation ultimately brings them together, looking for the truth. Although it’s fairly obvious from the start that the cases are connected, the question is how – was Matt murdered for creating spyware, was he being spied on and just coincidentally murdered, or was it something else? The reader is kept fairly well teased as to whether the solution will be a personal grudge or a matter of business, and a strong pair of markedly different main characters maintains personal interest in the story.
There is No Cloud is a very promising start for a new author!