My new thriller THE ADVERSARY deals with the very real threat posed by the sophisticated new generation of computer viruses exemplified by the Stuxnet virus. As reported in David Sanger’s 2012 book CONFRONT AND CONCEAL Stuxnet was created through a collaboration between the U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies that succeeded in disrupting the centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment center, the heart of the Iranian nuclear program.
But a “smart bomb” computer virus like Stuxnet is different from a traditional weapon that is destroyed when it is detonated. A computer virus is made up of computer code that, once deployed, is out there in the world. THE ADVERSARY considers what might happen if a computer virus like Stuxnet was retooled by black hat hackers and turned back against our country as a weapon of cyberterrorism.
THE ADVERSARY is the first book in my new series featuring Chris Bruen, a former Department of Justice cybercrimes prosecutor who is now in private practice helping his clients combat hackers and cybercriminals. In what should have been a routine assignment in Amsterdam, Bruen finds a hacker’s dead body and uncovers a hidden flash drive that contains the code for a remarkably sophisticated computer virus known as Lurker. Upon returning home, Bruen finds himself the target of a shadowy group of hackers who plan on unleashing Lurker, which will bring a major US city to its knees in seven days. Suddenly, Bruen finds that he’s become the top suspect in an international manhunt and he must stay ahead of the FBI and CIA while he tries to decode the virus, find the hackers, and clear his name. With the lives of tens of thousands of people hanging in the balance, Bruen must go beyond the brink to stop the hackers.
When I’m not writing thrillers, I’m a partner in an international law firm specializing in privacy and data security law. Although my practice isn’t quite as dramatic or hazardous as Bruen’s, I also help my clients defend against and respond to security breaches caused by hackers and cybercriminals.
THE ADVERSARY is the follow-up to my first book, THE INSIDER, which was a finalist for the 2011 Thriller Award for Best First Novel. PUBLISHER’S WEEKLY said of THE INSIDER, “Regulatory attorney Hirsch’s debut has something for everyone.”
Thomas & Mercer (Amazon Publishing’s mystery/thriller imprint) has taken an innovative approach to releasing my book, issuing it in installments as part of its Kindle Serials program. For a total price of $1.99, the reader receives an episode delivered to their Kindle each week for eight weeks. When the serialization is complete, THE ADVERSARY will be available as a regular ebook and paperback.
While serialized fiction dates back to Dickens’ time, it’s enjoying a resurgence these days. It seems that the publishers of serialized fiction are seeking to replicate the water cooler experience that TV viewers have when watching episodic thrillers like HOMELAND and BREAKING BAD. Amazon provides a reader discussion forum for each episode of its Serials where readers can discuss the latest cliffhanger or ask questions of the author.
The publishing industry has changed radically since Dickens’ time. In fact, it’s changed radically in the past five years. But I think serialized fiction still holds a particular sort of appeal for certain readers — sometimes it can be fun to be kept in suspense a bit. And in this age where all of the world’s information seems to be available to us at a keystroke, perhaps less (having a novel delivered in bite-sized installments) can sometimes be more. At least I hope that’s the case.
Reece Hirsch’s first book, THE INSIDER, was a finalist for the 2011 International Thriller Writers Award for Best First Novel. Like THE ADVERSARY, that book draws upon his experiences as an attorney—although his legal work is a lot less exciting and hazardous than that of his character Chris Bruen. Hirsch is a partner in the San Francisco office of an international law firm, specializing in privacy and data security law. He is also a member of the board of directors of 826 National. Hirsch lives in the Bay Area with his wife and a small unruly dog.
To learn more about Reece, please visit his website.