...if, like me, you are a technophobe who also loves good suspense fiction, you should stick with this story...the techie jargon here is more decorative than essential. It’s an embellishment that lends credibility to one of the most ingenious thrillers I’ve read in a long time ... Brookmyre is a pro at slowly injecting ever more anxiety into scenes where the suspense sweat-o-meter is already hovering in the red zone ... The one thing critical to a good suspense novel is, well, suspense. But an extraordinary suspense novel has that extra something — a haunting setting, wit or, in the case of The Last Hack, the presence of an idiosyncratic, morally complex heroine. The immortal Lisbeth Salander, that other 'girl on the Internet,' is brilliant, but deliberately difficult to cozy up to; Sam Morpeth is much more human and vulnerable. By the end of this novel, she’s not only hacked her way into high security sites like Synergis but into but a reader’s affections, too.
Part-Mission: Impossible, part-Ocean’s Eleven, part-Die Hard, part-To Catch a Thief — and containing winks to all four — The Last Hack delves into industrial espionage and hacking culture, demonstrates some seriously impressive social engineering at work, and fiercely embraces those old-fashioned qualities of loyalty and unconditional love. A highly entertaining writer — his books have won awards for their comic as well their crime-fiction elements — Brookmyre is tenacious when it comes to exploring the most cynical aspects of his characters while peppering his writing with amusing and spot-on details.
The social engineering elements are as interesting as the technical details of the online intrusion. Some may find this slow-paced but a more generous assessment is that the thrills are more cerebral. Those less familiar with the nuances of cyber crime may wonder if they have stumbled into a techno-thriller, but Brookmyre works hard to keep the human angles in crisp focus ... I’ve been reading Brookmyre since Parlabane made his first appearance in Quite Ugly One Morning in 1996 and his recent surge in popularity reflects his talents. As a thriller the final 100 pages do not disappoint and it storms along with revelations aplenty. Brookmyre takes all the plot strands and twists them one way then the other. There is a buzzy, visceral tension in the final third that strips through the pages. The Last Hack may not have the broad appeal of Brookmyre’s last hit, Black Widow, but this is a fine addition to the series.
To Brookmyre's credit, he makes the reader uncommonly comfortable in that world. As crowded as the book is with technical terms, they never stop the action for want of explanation. And Sam's hacking ploys are cool in the extreme. An enjoyable departure from its predecessors, Brookmyre's eighth Jack Parlabane novel works exceptionally well as cybercrime fiction, but it's the human element that makes it tick.