© 2022 Kat Wheeler
Cam Caldwell was a conscientious saleswoman whose interest in a product defect inadvertently threw her into the middle of a murder mystery. The culmination of that drama in There is no Cloud cost Cam her job, and nearly her life. Now, despite running her own consultancy and steering clear of her old job, Cam is being drawn back in – lured in by both an interesting-looking fella, a compelling mystery, and the possibility of having more money than the pocket change she’s currently living off of. Cloud Judgment sees Cam drawn into two mysteries, both equally dangerous, and is a fun sequel to Kat Wheeler’s debut novel.
I much enjoyed There is no Cloud last year, as computer-technical thrillers are a relatively rare breed (who writes them besides Doctorow and Russonovich?), and Wheeler used that novel to explore the even-more untapped world of ‘smart’ homes and IoT gear. That trend continues in Cloud Judgment, as the central mystery Cameron chews over involves a series of house fires that appear to be connected to IoT equipment – though there’s no obvious pattern to the equipment used. The other mystery inaugurates the novel, as Cam is approached by a handsome chap who makes her heart go pitty-pat and solicited for cybersecurity work. When beginning the job, she realizes something isn’t kosher and bolts, reporting the incident to her ex-boyfriend, a cop, who doesn’t take her seriously but instead asks her for help with the arson case. Relationship tension pervades the novel, not only between Cam and her two love interests / consultees, but between Cam and people she consults: one relationship proves to be particularly important during the novel’s finale. There’s also a lot of humor in the novel, as Cam and her colleagues frequently rib one another: no one can understand how a saleswoman keeps getting herself mixed up in abductions, conspiracies, and desperate grapples.
If you are looking for a relevant technical thriller that doesn’t get into the weeds like the Jeff Aiken series, the Cam Caldwell books should be of interest, prompting thought about the kind of tech we admit into our homes unsecured. I know it’s kept any interest I have in one of Google or Amazon’s smart speakers properly squelched!
You would think that computer-technical thrillers would be a lot more common than they are, especially with the world we live in! Maybe authors/publishers think that we get enough of that sort of thing on the daily news and people wouldn’t be too interested reading fictionalised versions of it? When I was looking for 10 books for my Robots sequence I really struggled to find them. I thought that was weird too. Where’s all the techy fiction books? We can’t be the only one’s interested in such things surely?
Maybe there’s a disconnect between people who are savvy enough about the subject and people who can create a good story. Russonovich, for instance, definitely knows its stuff — he created a website of Windows tools that was so good that Microsoft hired him — but the novels are so technically laden they would put off a lot of the potential audience.
I was wondering if I had anything similar. The only one that popped into my head was ‘Cyber-Killers’ edited by Ric Alexander that I was planning to read later in the year.