The Hacker

A gripping, addictive techno thriller with a shocking twist

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Pub Date 01 Sep 2022 | Archive Date 01 Sep 2022
Head of Zeus, Head of Zeus -- an Aries Book

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The gripping debut techno thriller from cybercrime specialist Daniel Scanlan. FBI Special Agent Ericka Blackwood chases a deadly online predator in a high-stakes hunt for the truth. Perfect for fans of Thomas Harris and Stieg Larsson.

He's online. He's anonymous. He's deadly.

When a video surfaces on the Dark Web showing a murder no one else could have witnessed, FBI Special Agent Ericka Blackwood starts tracking down the killer. But the case is even darker than Ericka thought. Hidden behind an avatar named Dantalion, a criminal mastermind is feeding his sadistic appetites by directing the crimes of others – and he may have been orchestrating his twisted schemes for years.

As Ericka homes in on her target, the tables are suddenly turned. Dantalion has information that will help Ericka fulfil a deeply personal quest for revenge... but only if she risks her career, her life, and the fate of Dantalion's future victims. Does vengeance come at too high a price?

Reviewers on The Hacker:

'Frighteningly plausible and deftly written, Daniel Scanlan’s debut is a thrilling roller coaster of twists and turns.' Boyd Morrison
'A thoroughly disturbing lightning-paced thriller. Dark, twisted and horribly captivating.' Ian Green
'Tense, gripping, brutal, scary – The Hacker has everything you'd want from a thriller.' P.R. Black
'Dark, brutal, scary – yet absolutely riveting.' Samantha Brick
'The author creates an atmosphere of high-tech terror... A modern, thrilling novel.' Promoting Crime Fiction

The gripping debut techno thriller from cybercrime specialist Daniel Scanlan. FBI Special Agent Ericka Blackwood chases a deadly online predator in a high-stakes hunt for the truth. Perfect for fans...

Available Editions

ISBN 9781801107822
PRICE £4.99 (GBP)

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Average rating from 21 members

Featured Reviews

I loved this and want more, the disadvantage of reading ARCs. An excellent combination of tech and thriller, and what seems to be well researched, true to life story building. My only complaint is that the book seems to be starting in the middle of the story. I’d love to know more about Ericha’s life before and after, and of course the story sets up well for a sequel (or more). Perhaps an internet private detective agency, or well funded vigilante group?
Either way, great book, thanks for letting me read early. I’ll definitely keep an eye out for this author in the future.
I lie, a second critique is the title: overused and not creative, which doesn’t represent the story at all.

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This novel was haunting brilliant. It was dark, twisted and horrible captivating. The world building Scanlan describes is frighteningly believable and disturbing. Over all an amazing book but not for the faint hearted.

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Fantastic book. Not the best book to read before boarding your flight home from your holiday though! It seems everything in life can be hacked. Great plot and extremely well written. Off to read his other book now.

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Special Agent Ericka Blackwood chases a deadly online predator in a high-stakes hunt for the truth In this gripping thriller.

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Thank you, NetGalley and Head of Zeus & Aries Books, for this advanced copy of The Hacker.
A compelling and fascinating storyline where FBI Special Agent Ericka Blackwood starts tracking down a killer. But no ordinary Killer is this.
Using the Dark Web, Dantalion, using an avatar, is a criminal mastermind. He is feeding his sadistic appetites by directing the crimes of others.
Ericka Blackwood starts tracking down the killer. But the case is even darker than Ericka thought.
We enter the familiar territory of a game of cat and mouse with the stakes incredibly high.
It was not too heavy on high-tech investigative techniques, so things did not tend to be overly complicated and choke the narrative.
Finding a strong yet vulnerable main protagonist in FBI Special Agent Ericka Blackwood was fascinating. A bit more background information on her would not have gone amiss.
The storyline is not that far-fetched and has more than a touch of believability about it. And it certainly is seriously creepy and eerily atmospheric.
As with the plotline, the book's characters are believable and not unrelatable.
The novel maintained a steady pace throughout until racking up the tension towards the climactic conclusion.
The Hacker is a well-written descriptive story and an immersive and exciting book to read.

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This book is an unapologetic techno thriller and it may not be everyone’s cup of tea but I loved it - even if I didn’t understand all the geek speak!

First Assistant Special Agent in Charge Ericka Blackwood of the FBI’s Dark Web Intelligence Unit (DIU) hunts the worst of the worst on the dark web. She is currently on desk duty after an incident but her partner Tim O’Connell gets to do the leg work. Ericka has come across a video that should not exist. She was there on the night, two years ago, when they were literally minutes too late to save a young being r@ped and tortured from dying. But they did manage to stop any footage from getting out. And now this - it is definitely the same girl, same night but there are subtle differences. Ericka concludes there must have been another person or camera present. How did they miss that?

And so starts the hunt for the man calling himself Dantalion. He is a hacker with skills she has not seen before. He is always several steps ahead of them. He has many failsafe scripts that wipe everything off his equipment if anyone gets too close and he does not fit the usual mold of bad guy. He is not in it for the money, he has no set victim type, he is not a se*ual sadist. It seems he is motivated only by seeing the fear in his victims and he has a literal army of ‘helpers’ to buy stuff and set things up for him.

This guy is going to be very tricky to catch. Ericka, the FBI’s best of the best will need to get into his head to have any hope of catching him. Meanwhile Dantalion is getting into her head. He knows all about her and what motivates her, why she joined the FBI from the more lucrative private sector. Ericka wants to, needs to, catch the three men who destroyed her sister 12 years ago while she was holidaying in Mexico. She was gang r@ped and beaten and left for dead. Eventually, her mind broken, she finished the job and killed herself.

So, this was pretty much all action and technical exploits. I could not put this book down, it was very compelling reading. The author’s note at the end of the book tells us that all the tech stuff is either already possible or very close to it. A sobering thought indeed. It sounds like there is to be a sequel which I will be very keen to read. Many thanks to Netgalley and Head of Zeus for the much appreciated arc which I reviewed voluntarily and honestly.

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The Hacker by Daniel Scanlan.
He's online. He's anonymous. He's deadly.
When a video surfaces on the Dark Web showing a murder no one else could have witnessed, FBI Special Agent Ericka Blackwood starts tracking down the killer.
A very good read. Dark and twisted. Loved it. 5*.

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As a book blogger and someone who loves genre fiction the internet is for me a great thing. It helps me find books; has made friendships and given me a hobby I really enjoy. But the net has a dark side. There are of course the trolls and bigots but there is online hiding in the shadows criminals and some people we would more likely label monsters. The net connects us all together but that can also lead to people being able to peel away our secrets and control all those many devices we now rely on so much. In Daniel Scanlan’s exhilarating thriller The Hacker we explore this hidden side of the world and face an extremely tense battle of cat and mouse being played across the world.

Ericka Blackwood is a thirty-something FBI Special Agent who deal in cybercrime but also struggles with her family secrets leading to a long list of disciplinary issues and knows she is heading towards the exit from this life of exploring the darker side of humanity. However, a haunting killing that is broadcast on the dark web draws her attention and reveals a disquieting trail of linked crimes where a showy presence spiralises in enabling terrible people to do terrible things for their own voyeuristic pleasure but also to fuel their own global game of terror and revenge. Ericka has always known she is one of the best there is but soon realises her opponent this time is proving more than a match and may know even her own secrets which could destroy her.

This is an intense, extremely well-paced and exciting thriller exploring the dark world of cybercrime that I hugely enjoyed and found very difficult to let go of to read anything else. It is though important to stress that this tale also deals with the dark side of humanity. There is exploration (but fortunately not a salacious one) of topics such as sexual violence, child abuse and murder. Scanlan explores how the internet scarily feeds these crimes and the market for people to view and trade in these secrets is vast and has little respect for borders. This is a world of the dark web and Scanlan very intelligently explains exactly what this is; how it works and why it is so hard to track and find the culprits. Impressively rather than just high tech infodumps it’s explained swiftly and helps the reader understand how tracing, VR, VPNs and even an AI can work in this context. Scarily the author’s afterword suggests that a lot more of this is possible than you’d think or ideally hope.

Ericka is a really interesting lead character with a family secret driving her but not always in a positive light. Her desire for revenge clouds her judgement and makes her reckless. While we want her to succeed, we know she can easily put herself in danger. The reveal of our villain named after the demon Dantalion who has equal (possibly greater skills) and as well as loathsome tastes is far more organised than Ericka means we have a well-matched battle of wits to enjoy with bated breath. This is where the highlight of the story is the set-pieces that slowly escape as Ericka and her suspect tussle digitally across the world. Gunfights, gang executions and then full-on vehicle takeovers culminate in one of the creepiest final acts when you see exactly how sophisticated Dantalion’s plans are…reading this on a plane may not be the best idea! The one drawback is after all of this you realise the story seems not to have enough time to wrap it all up and instead a few cliff-hangers await in the sequel.

The Hacker by Daniel Scanlan is a extremely enjoyable thriller delivering a fast, well plotted and surprising tale and at the same time opens up a new front in thrillers with the dark world of cybercrime calling. Very much the type of tale you stay up late to finish and well worth your time. Highly recommended!

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A tech thriller that grabs you by the jugular and only lets go when you have finished the last page. Special Agent Ericka Blackwood is good at her job, some even say that she is the best. Until she comes up against a predator on the Dark web who has his own sick agenda. No matter what she tries he is still three steps ahead of her. Now he hastakena personal interest in Ericka. This is a hell of a ride and not for the faint hearted. You better strap yourself in because you are in for a bloody terrifying ride with echoes of the truth. Loved it and want now,but I think I need a lay down first.
Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the ARC in return for giving an honest review.

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