The Scarecrow by Michael Connelly
James has been fired from the newspaper, but he has enough time to train his replacement. He’s got one last chance to get a good story out before he goes. It involves a young man accused of murder. What James finds is not an admission of murder, but a rather long transcript of the interrogation. The teenager never actually confessed to the murder. He’s not a nice kid, but according to him, when he stole the car, the body was already inside the trunk.
Additional murders, of a similar nature happen. It has something to do with a strange website about trunk murders. The thing James doesn’t know is that the domain name is being watched. The person watching has the power to do all sorts of awful things to James, which he finds out when he gets to Las Vegas to chase down a lead.
With the help of a federal agent, James starts to unravel things. It has something to do with an IT company, but what?
What I liked
This novel has a heavy basis in the computer world, which is nice, since I am a computer professional. You just wouldn’t believe the things you can do with computers. It’s nice to add a little mystery and a little crime to computers, because it certainly exists, but people don’t think about it often enough.
What I didn’t like
I’m not overly fond of the main characters. They didn’t grab me, really.
Is it possible to hack into a credit card company and cancel someone’s account? Sure, technically. How about shutting down their bank account and transferring all their funds? Sure, technically. I say technically because it is possible, but it takes a whole lot of know-how, a whole lot of guts, and a whole lot of knowing how to not get caught. Where money is concerned, you better bet your butt that it’s going to be well protected. Banks don’t just make their passwords “password” or “1234.” Money is protected by lots of safety measures, both physical and technological. The skill necessary to hack into a financial institution is very high. Moreover, how do you hack into that system without being noticed? If you’re going to screw with one person, you don’t want to get caught just for that, so you better know how to hide your tracks. You would have to be smart enough to hide all traces, or at least the most obvious ones, computer wise.
While this may sound exciting, it’s not feasible. Usually when financial institutions get hacked, the people doing it are going for big money. They don’t want to screw with one person; they want to screw with everyone. They’re going to make sure their tracks are covered, as much as possible, but someone is going to notice. It’s not realistic that one guy is going to have enough knowledge to hack multiple big institutions by himself and then hide the fact that he did.
Scarecrows are for corn.
Could you hack into a bank?
Do you think hacking is portrayed as glamorous?