A review of Buried Secrets, by Joseph Finder
@@@@ (4 out of 5)
Buried Secrets opens much like a standard-issue detective novel, with Nick Heller approached by an old friend to investigate the mysterious disappearance of an old friend’s daughter. Heller is not a PI, really, but, well . . . a sort of private spy who just happens to be a former Special Forces soldier with connections in the FBI and other, unnamed federal agencies.
Gradually, we learn that this is by no means a typical detective story. As he searches for Alexa, the pretty teenaged daughter of hedge fund billionaire Marcus Marshall, Heller soon finds himself enmeshed in a deadly game involving international criminal forces and probably the Russian regime to boot. Along the way, Heller rekindles an old love affair that seems to suggest a partnership in future stories.
Buried Secrets, like all the other Joseph Finder novels I’ve read, is a cut or two above other thrillers — in its intricate plotting, its in-depth charzacterizations, and its hard-hitting writing.
Buried Secrets is the second of Joseph Finder’s Nick Heller novels and his tenth overall. His books are all thrillers set in the world of business and finance. However, Finder first gained notice as a graduate student in Russian affairs at Harvard in the early 1980s when he wrote an expose about the controversial American oilman Armand Hammer, tieing him to the Kremlin. Though Hammer threatened to sue for libel, he never did, and the opening of the KGB files years later confirmed Finder’s assertions. Hammer, who was close to Richard Nixon, was effectively a KGB agent.
@@@@ (4 out of 5)
If you’re already worried about computer crime and identity theft, you’ll be wracked with fear if you read this troubling new account of the subject by a Los Angeles Times reporter specializing in Internet security. Joseph Menn’s “Fatal System Error” is aptly subtitled “The Hunt for the New Crime Lords Who Are Bringing Down the Internet.” By focusing on two heroes of the underpowered movement to combat Internet crime, Menn brings this complex and terrifying reality into high relief. The book is largely devoted to the efforts of Barrett Lyon, a California surfer self-taught to become one of the world’s leading Internet security experts, and Andy Crocker, a courageous British policeman, and their collaborative work to identify the criminals responsible for the now all-too-familiar viruses, worms, Trojans, and denial-of-service attacks that have infiltrated millions of computers and disabled thousands of Web sites.
It’s disturbing enough to learn that criminals siphoned off $1 trillion from computer fraud in 2009 alone, and to know that a huge proportion of that money went into the pockets of the American mafia and the Russian mob. Even more disquieting, though, is to learn about how both the Russian and Chinese governments are protecting Internet criminals because they have enlisted them in building offensive cyberwar weapons. What we all learned recently about Chinese hackers’ attacks on Google and other U.S. companies invested in China is just a hint of the breadth and depth of that government’s efforts to gain ascendancy over the West by building the capacity to bring down our economies in the event of a future conflict.