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Want You Gone by Christopher Brookmyre
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Jack Parlabane's star is back on the rise. With the Black Widow case still fresh in the mind he has been invited for an interview with a leading edge magazine who want to expand their repertoire with more in depth investigative reporting and while this didn't go quite as well as expected Jack still has a chance to prove himself. So it's a good job that he might have an inside track into a cyber crime story that's hitting the headlines. Someone has hacked the website of a major bank and while they haven't stolen anything, their actions are certainly having an effect on the share price. Sam Morpeth has a secret. By day she's just an unremarkable student who has just had to give up her further education plans to look after her younger sister who suffers from down's syndrome when their mother is locked up in prison. She's quiet, shy and often finds herself on the wrong end of the bullies from school. Give her online access though and she is transformed into somebody totally different hiding behind the alias "Buzzkill". Her secret and involvement in recent events is threatened with exposure and if she doesn't do what someone wants then she might very well find herself locked up with her mother (that's if she's lucky) and where would that leave her sister? This blackmailer wants her to steal a prototype device along with any plans for it and leave it so there's no chance for it to be re-engineered. While Sam could handle the online part of the job she'll need someone to do the physical so it's a good job she knows someone who owes her a favour that is not averse to a little breaking and entering to get what he needs.

This is the 8th book in the series and although it's a stand-alone story there are a few references to Jack's past and follows the more recent entries into Brookmyre's more serious books though some of the snappy dialogue still manages to raise a smile. The action is fast-paced and thrilling but that's not done at the expense of character building. The secondary lead of Sam is well developed and her duality is quite believable. It's also quite an eye-opener for the social engineering aspects of the hacker activities and how easy it could be for someone to gain access to sensitive information in a few simple steps. This is another quality entry into what's mostly been an excellent series. ( )
  AHS-Wolfy | Mar 20, 2018 |
This is the third Christopher Brookmyre novel I've read in the Jack Parlabane series. I rated Dead Girl Walking a 5 and Black Widow a 4. LH is not close to the other two; 3 1/2 is generous.

Jack is a free lance journalist with a tarnished star, tarnished because he goes over the line to research his stories. He breaks into homes, offices, whatever to research his writing. And he gets caught, just about all the time. So, nobody in the industry wants anything to do with him. But Jack always seems to get a gig, perhaps with not the most respected journals, and what does he do? Break in, get caught, get fired, write a great story, and the cycle begins all over again.

Interestingly, Brookmyre writes more about the other characters in his novels in total than he does about Jack. And they have always been very interesting characters. And the plots are very good. So, what's the problem with LH?

Too much hacking. If you're 18, or even 28, you might really get a big charge over the very detailed hacking stuff. But do people under 30 read books anymore, I dunno. The first 2/3rds of this story are hack, hack, hack then the plot gets a bit more interesting as the pursuit focuses on characters and not computer information. Then it slides again into hacking, with an ending that ties up all the loose ends, and I mean ALL the loose ends into one happy package, and the good guys win out again.

Way too much hacking. My guess is that 50-100 pages of hacking and acronyms could've been hacked (PUN) and nothing would have been lost. Yes, sometimes less is more. Author Brookmyre seems to have fallen in love with this hacking stuff. One of the earlier books relied heavily on a hacker to break the big mystery. I hope he has gotten over it and will think a bit more about what his readers might be wanting....

Jack has a partner of sorts in this one, a young woman who knows everything about hacking and shares it all with the reader. So some chapters are narrated first person by Samantha and others are third person descriptors of what Jack is up to. Didn't care for that structure either. Maybe 3 1/2 is too generous. Want something different and truly great? Check out the author's "Dead Girl Walking" about a rock band headed by a young woman. Excellent.

One last comment. The cover has a rather interesting endorsement. Just this one blurb -

"Pure literary dynamite." - Lorenzo Carcaterra (Now I think that's very funny....) ( )
  maneekuhi | Jan 10, 2018 |
This is the eighth book by Brookmyre featuring reporter Jack Parlabane. Expect a spoiler or two for the previous books in this review. On the other hand, if, like me, you’ve never read the previous books, then rest assured that this book can be read as a standalone.

Sam Morpeth is unstoppable. Really, she’s pretty much a superhero (or supervillain), able to go where she wants and do what she wants. Unfortunately, that super-powered persona only exists online. In real life, she is simply a 19 year old whose mother is in jail on drug charges, and who struggles to keep food on the table for herself and her little sister Lilly, who has Downs Syndrome.

But someone has connected to two halves of Sam’s life. Someone with a devious agenda, and proof of Sam’s past hacks. Blackmailed into performing an act of industrial espionage, Sam in turn forcibly recruits journalist Jack Parlabane, recently returned to the UK, to help her with the heist. As the two come to an uneasy truce, they delve into the underside of the internet in a desperate attempt to discover who is behind the sinister plot.

As I said above, this book can be read as part of its series or as a standalone novel. I was conscious of missing out on a few references here and there, but all in all not much went over my head. Perhaps it helps that the book is less about Jack Parlabane and more about the hacker Samantha Morpeth.

What is really striking about the book is the breathtaking contrast between Sam navigating her real life, and Sam, as her hacker alias Buzzkill, navigating the web. Sam in real life is meek, seeking more than anything to disappear into the background. Her life is horrible, stuck in an impossible position of needing to care for her little sister while her mother is in prison, and being denied at every turn the ability to do so. But online, Sam, as Buzzkill, can use her intelligence, imagination, and anonymity to effect real change in the world around her.

The story itself is fast-paced and technologically terrifying. I found myself getting legitimately paranoid even time I experienced any lag time on any of my electronics. While certainly a work of fiction, the book serves to remind us of how vulnerable we are now that we are all inevitably connected via the internet.

So, if you’re looking for an intelligent technological thriller (with a woman of color as the protagonist, yay!), then this book is a good fit for you!

An advance copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. ( )
  irregularreader | Sep 23, 2017 |
Wow, at first my eyes were going fuzzy on me with all the computer talk in this book. However, the author did dumb it down enough for me to where I mostly understood what was going on, not how but the what.

This book was crazy once I got through the first couple of chapters. Hackers who just like to go into corporate websites just because they can. And then, there are the criminals who want to get in to steal things or for other criminal activities. When one hacker is being blackmailed to steal a new product from a computer company, that's when things really take off. And boy did they take off. The action had me holding my breath while my heart sped up.

I definitely enjoyed this book and would like to thank Grove Atlantic and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest, unbiased review. ( )
  debkrenzer | Jul 13, 2017 |
I liked "Black Widow" the Jack Parlabane book I read last year, but I found the writing in this one to be too choppy and difficult to follow.

Mr. Brookmyre attempts chatroom cant when he is working with the hackers, and a breezy newsroom style with the journos. It confused me enough that I quit reading.

I received a review copy of "The Last Hack: A Jack Parlabane Thriller" by Christopher Brookmyre (Grove Atlantic) through NetGalley.com.

https://www.amazon.com/review/R1CBH44TW18YKI/ref=cm_cr_rdp_perm ( )
  Dokfintong | Jul 8, 2017 |
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"Internationally bestselling author Christopher Brookmyre, winner of the McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and finalist for the CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger for his most recent novel, Black Widow, is renowned for his black humor, remarkably well-drawn characters, and killer twists. His new Jack Parlabane thriller, The Hack, is his most unstoppable novel yet. Sam Morpeth has had to grow up way too fast, left to fend for a younger sister with learning difficulties when their mother goes to prison and watching her dreams of university evaporate. But Sam learns what it is to be truly powerless when a stranger begins to blackmail her online, drawing her into a trap she may not escape alive. Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane has finally got his career back on track, working for a flashy online news start-up, but his success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Now that debt is being called in, and it could cost him everything. Thrown together by a common enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they have more in common than they realize--and might be each other's only hope"--… (more)

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