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The Blue Nowhere

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Overview

His code name is Phate -- a sadistic computer hacker who infiltrates people's computers, invades their lives, and with chilling precision lures them to their deaths. To stop him, the authorities free imprisoned former hacker Wyatt Gillette to aid the investigation. Teamed with old-school homicide detective Frank Bishop, Gillette must combine their disparate talents to catch a brilliant and merciless killer.
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Overview

His code name is Phate -- a sadistic computer hacker who infiltrates people's computers, invades their lives, and with chilling precision lures them to their deaths. To stop him, the authorities free imprisoned former hacker Wyatt Gillette to aid the investigation. Teamed with old-school homicide detective Frank Bishop, Gillette must combine their disparate talents to catch a brilliant and merciless killer.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Jeffery Deaver's The Blue Nowhere is a carefully researched, cutting-edge thriller set in the brave new world of information technology. In Deaver's version of this world, outlaw hackers dominate the landscape, and the most significant events take place in "the blue nowhere," the endless plane of pure data and electronic impulses commonly referred to as "cyberspace."

Deaver's hero is Wyatt Gillette, a legendary hacker currently imprisoned for successfully cracking security codes employed by Department of Defense computers. Wyatt is entering his third year in prison when relief comes from an unexpected direction: the California State Computer Crimes Unit. The leader of that unit, Lt. Thomas Anderson, has just encountered a whole new species of criminal, and finds himself in need of Wyatt Gillette's peculiar expertise.

The criminal in question calls himself "Phate." He is, in the common parlance, a Wizard -- a hacker capable of gaining access to the most restricted forms of data, while leaving no trace of his own identity behind. Phate has, for reasons of his own, begun to invade the private files of a number of carefully chosen victims. He uses this private data to infiltrate the lives of those prospective victims and then murders them one by one. Only Wyatt, himself a Wizard of comparable abilities, can discern the pattern that underlies Phate's apparently random brutalities. Only Wyatt has the necessary skills to track his fellow hacker down.

The result is a tense, immensely readable novel that is deeply rooted in the arcane realities of a constantly evolving technology, a technology that has altered the essential nature of modern life, creating a whole new breed of heroes and villains in the process. With great narrative assurance, The Blue Nowhere takes us into the arcane society of the 21st century hacker, giving us a unique -- and convincing -- duel between rival Wizards who are more at home in the world of information than in the quotidian world of mundane, three dimensional "reality." The result is a striking, state-of-the-art thriller that works both as a first-rate entertainment and as a cautionary tale about the dangers implicit in our ongoing love affair with the computer. (Bill Sheehan)

Bill Sheehan reviews horror, suspense, and science fiction for Cemetery Dance, The New York Review of Science Fiction, and other publications. His book-length critical study of the fiction of Peter Straub, At the Foot of the Story Tree, has been published by Subterranean Press (www.subterraneanpress.com).

From the Publisher
San Francisco Chronicle A gripping high-tech page turner.

USA Today A terrific thriller.

People High-tension wired.

Entertainment Weekly The Blue Nowhere is that rare cyberthriller that doesn't make us want to log off in the middle.

San Francisco Chronicle Deaver packs The Blue Nowhere with enough twists and surprises that even the most alert reader will be gulled by the numerous red herrings and narrative decoys....He has the language of technology down cold, but thankfully, never goes over the reader's head. Think of a technical manual with intrigue, fights, chases, and double-crosses. And there's no need to reboot.

Kirkus Reviews Just when you thought it was safe to check your e-mail, psychokiller specialist Deaver shows just how malignant the human ghost in your machine can be.

The Boston Herald Grounded in expert knowledge about how computers actually operate....You won't learn how to break into the Pentagon. But you will get a sense of the allure of cyberspace.

Publishers Weekly How do you write a truly gripping thriller about people staring into computer screens? Many have tried, none have succeeded -- until now....As he twists suspense and tension to gigahertz levels, Deaver springs an astonishing number of surprises....His real triumph is to make the hacker world come alive in all its midnight, reality-cracking intensity. This novel is, in hacker lingo, "totally moby" -- the most exciting and most vivid fiction yet about the neverland hackers call 'The Blue Nowhere.'

The Times (London) [A] taut tale.

The Deseret News (Salt Lake City) [A] clever thriller....Neatly conceived and well written. The characters are well developed and believable....[Deaver] builds suspense upon suspense, including odd twists and turns.

From the Publisher
San Francisco Chronicle A gripping high-tech page turner.

USA Today A terrific thriller.

People High-tension wired.

Entertainment Weekly The Blue Nowhere is that rare cyberthriller that doesn't make us want to log off in the middle.

San Francisco Chronicle Deaver packs The Blue Nowhere with enough twists and surprises that even the most alert reader will be gulled by the numerous red herrings and narrative decoys....He has the language of technology down cold, but thankfully, never goes over the reader's head. Think of a technical manual with intrigue, fights, chases, and double-crosses. And there's no need to reboot.

Kirkus Reviews Just when you thought it was safe to check your e-mail, psychokiller specialist Deaver shows just how malignant the human ghost in your machine can be.

The Boston Herald Grounded in expert knowledge about how computers actually operate....You won't learn how to break into the Pentagon. But you will get a sense of the allure of cyberspace.

Publishers Weekly How do you write a truly gripping thriller about people staring into computer screens? Many have tried, none have succeeded — until now....As he twists suspense and tension to gigahertz levels, Deaver springs an astonishing number of surprises....His real triumph is to make the hacker world come alive in all its midnight, reality-cracking intensity. This novel is, in hacker lingo, "totally moby" — the most exciting and most vivid fiction yet about the neverland hackers call 'The Blue Nowhere.'

The Times (London) [A] taut tale.

The Deseret News (Salt Lake City) [A] clever thriller....Neatly conceived and well written. The characters are well developed and believable....[Deaver] builds suspense upon suspense, including odd twists and turns.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
How do you write a truly gripping thriller about people staring into computer screens? Many have tried, none have succeeded until now. Leave it to Deaver, the most clever plotter on the planet, to do it by simply applying the same rules of suspense to onscreen action as to offscreen. Much of the action in this novel about the hunt for an outlaw hacker turned homicidal maniac does takes place in the real world, but much else plays out in cyberspace as a team of California homicide and computer crime cops chase the infamous "wizard" hacker known as Phate. The odds run against the cops. With his skills, Phate can not only change identities at will (a knack known as "social engineering" in hacking parlance) but can manipulate all computerized records about himself. The cops have a wizard of their own, however: a former online companion of Phate's, a hacker doing time for having allegedly cracked the Department of Defense's encryption program. He's Wyatt Gillette, coveting Pop-Tarts (the hacker's meal of choice) and computers, but also the wife he lost when he went to prison and it's his tortured personality that gives this novel its heart as Wyatt is sprung from prison, but only for as long as it takes to track down Phate. The mad hacker, meanwhile, no longer able to discern between the virtual and the real, has adapted a notorious online role-playing game to the world of flesh and blood, with innocent humans as his prey. As he twists suspense and tension to gigahertz levels, Deaver springs an astonishing number of surprises on the reader: Who is Phate's accomplice? What are Wyatt's real motives? Who is the traitor among the cops? His real triumph, though, is to make the hacker world come alive in all its midnight, reality-cracking intensity. This novel is, in hacker lingo, "totally moby" the most exciting, and most vivid, fiction yet about the neverland hackers call "the blue nowhere." Agent, Sterling Lord Literistic. (May 4) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Adult/High School-An engrossing thriller for the electronic age, packed with action, surprises, and adventure. Deaver's killer reaches inside his victims' minds, learns their deepest fears and vulnerabilities, and uses that knowledge to gain access to them. Phate is a techno-genius who has devised a method of invading individual computers and gaining admittance to all the files stored there, including e-mail. Worse, he is gaining "access" to his victims before he kills in what to him is just a real-world virtual-reality game. Faced with an electronics sociopath, the California State Police Computer Crimes Division "borrows" a jailed hacker to help them follow the complex electronic trail of the perpetrator. Wyatt, still facing a year of his prison sentence for ostensibly cracking a Defense Department code, is more than happy to be back online and on the trail of the killer hacker or "kracker." Readers are led to wonder if Wyatt, along with a number of the other characters, is what he appears to be. Besides being an engrossing mystery with lots of interesting characters, The Blue Nowhere is an absorbing history lesson about the Internet, a dictionary of computer terminology, and a compelling, if frightening, description of what is possible, and maybe probable, in our electronically based future.-Carol DeAngelo, Kings Park Library, Burke, VA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Just when you thought it was safe to check your e-mail, psychokiller specialist Deaver (Speaking in Tongues) shows just how malignant the human ghost in your machine can be. Jon Patrick Holloway is a hacker who prefers to be called Phate—and prefers to use the knowledge he gets about other people from hacking into their systems to set them up for murder. Bored with cracking the encryption codes for Fort Knox and the Pentagon, he's devised a program that will get him into virtually any computer and allow him to scan its memory, reconfigure its software, bring its hard drive crashing down, or give him all the intimate details he needs to worm himself into the user's confidence as he goes in for the kill. But Lt. Andy Anderson of the California State Police, though he's light-years behind the murderous geek, has a secret weapon: Wyatt Gillette, an imprisoned computer wizard he's temporarily freed so that he can go byte to byte with his old cyber-acquaintance Phate. Forget about the halfhearted echoes of that other unofficial police assistant Hannibal Lecter, and the halfhearted linking of Phate's attacks to historic computer anniversaries; what Deaver's really interested in is prolonging the Kabuki dance of his two state-of-the-art cavemen by having each of them endlessly second-guess the other via ruses, bluffs, and more masquerades than Mardi Gras. Despite the real paranoia Deaver's premise taps into, though—if every computer on earth is subject to tampering, what information can you trust?—the constant string of disguises works against development: after the briskly suspenseful opening chapters, there's no place for this endlessly ingenious tale to go. That doesn't mean Deaver doesn't provide his trademark throat-clutchers, diabolical double-crosses, or action scenes that suddenly turn inside out—only that this time there are just too many, and too few memorable characters who live through them.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780671042264
  • Publisher: Pocket Books
  • Publication date: 2/26/2002
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 544
  • Sales rank: 483,142
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 6.80 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffery  Deaver
Jeffery Deaver is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of two collections of short stories and twenty-eight suspense novels. He is best known for his Kathryn Dance and Lincoln Rhyme thrillers, most notably The Bone Collector, which was made into a feature film starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie. His many awards include the Novel of the Year at the International Thriller Writers’ Awards in 2009 for his standalone novel The Bodies Left Behind.

Deaver has been nominated for seven Edgar Awards by the Mystery Writers of America, an Anthony Award, and a Gumshoe Award. He was recently shortlisted for the ITV3 Crime Thriller Award for Best International Author. His books are sold in 150 countries and translated into twenty-five languages. He lives in North Carolina. Learn more at JefferyDeaver.com.

Biography

Born just outside Chicago in 1950 to an advertising copywriter father and stay-at-home mom, Jeffery Deaver was a writer from the start, penning his first book (a brief tome just two chapters in length) at age 11. He went on to edit his high school literary magazine and serve on the staff of the school newspaper, chasing the dream of becoming a crack reporter.

Upon earning his B.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri, Deaver realized that he lacked the necessary background to become a legal correspondent for the high-profile publications he aspired to, such as The New York Times or The Wall Street Journal, so he enrolled at Fordham Law School. Being a legal eagle soon grew on Deaver, and rather than continue on as a reporter, he took a job as a corporate lawyer at a top Wall Street firm. Deaver's detour from the writing life wasn't to last, however; ironically, it was his substantial commute to the law office that touched off his third -- and current -- career. He'd fill the long hours on the train scribbling his own renditions of the kind of fiction he enjoyed reading most: suspense.

Voodoo, a supernatural thriller, and Always a Thief, an art-theft caper, were Deaver's first published novels. Produced by the now-defunct Paperjacks paperback original house, the books are no longer in print, but they remain hot items on the collector circuit. His first major outing was the Rune series, which followed the adventures of an aspiring female filmmaker in the power trilogy Manhattan Is My Beat (1988), Death of a Blue Movie Star (1990), and Hard News (1991).

Deaver's next series, this one featuring the adventures of ace movie location scout John Pellam, featured the thrillers Shallow Graves (1992), Bloody River Blues (1993), and Hell's Kitchen (2001). Written under the pen name William Jefferies, the series stands out in Deaver's body of work, primarily because it touched off his talent for focusing more on his vivid characters than on their perilous situations.

In fact, it is his series featuring the intrepid and beloved team of Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs that showcases Deaver at the top of his game. Confronting enormous odds (and always under somewhat gruesome circumstances), the embittered detective and his feisty partner and love interest made their debut in 1991's grisly caper The Bone Collector, and hooked fans for four more books: The Coffin Dancer (1998), The Empty Chair (2000), The Stone Monkey (2002), and The Vanishing Man(2003). Of the series, Kirkus Reviews observed, "Deaver marries forensic work that would do Patricia Cornwell proud to turbocharged plots that put Benzedrine to shame."

On the creation of Rhyme, who happens to be a paraplegic, Deaver explained to Shots magazine, "I wanted to create a Sherlock Holmes-ian kind of character that uses his mind rather than his body. He solves crimes by thinking about the crimes, rather than someone who can shoot straight, run faster, or walk into the bar and trick people into giving away the clues."

As for his reputation for conjuring up some of the most unsavory scenes in pop crime fiction, Deaver admits on his web site, "In general, I think, less is more, and that if a reader stops reading because a book is too icky then I've failed in my obligation to the readers."

Good To Know

Deaver revises his manuscripts "at least 20 or 30 times" before his publishers get to even see a version.

Two of his books have been made into major feature films. The first was A Maiden's Grave (the film adaptation was called Dead Silence), which starred James Garner and Marlee Matlin. The Bone Collector came next, starring Denzel Washington and Angelina Jolie.

In addition to being a bestselling novelist, Deaver has also been a folksinger, songwriter, music researcher, and professional poet.

Deaver's younger sister, Julie Reece Deaver, is a fellow author who writes novels for young adults.

In our interview with Deaver, he reveals, "My inspiration for writing is the reader. I want to give readers whatever will excite and please them. It's absolutely vital in this business for authors to know their audience and to write with them in mind."

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    1. Also Known As:
      William Jefferies, Jeffery Wilds Deaver
    2. Hometown:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Date of Birth:
      May 6, 1950
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Education:
      B.A., University of Missouri; Juris Doctor, cum laude, Fordham University School of Law
    2. Website:

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The battered white van had made her uneasy.

Lara Gibson sat at the bar of Vesta's Grill on De Anza in Cupertino, California, gripping the cold stem of her martini glass and ignoring the two young chip-jocks standing nearby, casting flirtatious glances at her.

She looked outside again, into the overcast drizzle, and saw no sign of the windowless Econoline that, she believed, had followed her from her house, a few miles away, to the restaurant. Lara slid off the bar stool and walked to the window, glanced outside. The van wasn't in the restaurant's parking lot. Nor was it across the street in the Apple Computer lot or the one next to it, belonging to Sun Microsystems. Either of those lots would've been a logical place to park to keep an eye on her -- if the driver had in fact been stalking her.

No, the van was just a coincidence, she decided -- a coincidence aggravated by a splinter of paranoia.

She returned to the bar and glanced at the two young men who were alternately ignoring her and offering subtle smiles.

Like nearly all the young men here for happy hour they were in casual slacks and tie-less dress shirts and wore the ubiquitous insignia of Silicon Valley -- corporate identification badges on thin canvas lanyards around their necks. These two sported the blue cards of Sun Microsystems. Other squadrons represented here were Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and Apple, not to mention a slew of new kids on the block, start-up Internet companies, which were held in some disdain by the venerable Valley regulars.

At thirty-two, Lara Gibson was probably five years older than her two admirers. And as a self-employed businesswoman who wasn't a geek -- connected with a computer company -- she was easily five times poorer. But that didn't matter to these two men, who were already captivated by her exotic, intense face surrounded by a tangle of raven hair, her ankle boots, a red-and-orange gypsy skirt and a black sleeveless top that showed off hard-earned biceps.

She figured that it would be two minutes before one of these boys approached her and she missed that estimate by only ten seconds.

The young man gave her a variation of a line she'd heard a dozen times before: Excuse me don't mean to interrupt but hey would you like me to break your boyfriend's leg for making a beautiful woman wait alone in a bar and by the way can I buy you a drink while you decide which leg?

Another woman might have gotten mad, another woman might have stammered and blushed and looked uneasy or might have flirted back and let him buy her an unwanted drink because she didn't have the wherewithal to handle the situation. But those would be women weaker than she. Lara Gibson was "the queen of urban protection," as the San Francisco Chronicle had once dubbed her. She fixed her eyes on the man's, gave a formal smile and said, "I don't care for any company right now."

Simple as that. End of conversation.

He blinked at her frankness, avoided her staunch eyes and returned to his friend.

Power... it was all about power.

She sipped her drink.

In fact, that damn white van had brought to mind all the rules she'd developed as someone who taught women to protect themselves in today's society. Several times on the way to the restaurant she'd glanced into her rearview mirror and noticed the van thirty or forty feet behind. It had been driven by some kid. He was white but his hair was knotted into messy brown dreadlocks. He wore combat fatigues and, despite the overcast and misty rain, sunglasses. This was, of course, Silicon Valley, home of slackers and hackers, and it wasn't unusual to stop in Starbucks for a venti skim latte and be waited on by a polite teenager with a dozen body piercings, a shaved head and an outfit like an inner-city gangsta's. Still, the driver had seemed to stare at her with an eerie hostility.

Lara found herself absently fondling the can of pepper spray she kept in her purse.

Another glance out the window. She saw only fancy cars bought with dot-com money.

A look around the room. Only harmless geeks.

Relax, she told herself and sipped her potent martini.

She noted the wall clock. Quarter after seven. Sandy was fifteen minutes late. Not like her. Lara pulled out her cell phone but the display read no service.

She was about to find the pay phone when she glanced up and saw a young man enter the bar and wave at her. She knew him from somewhere but couldn't quite place him. His trim but long blond hair and the goatee had stuck in her mind. He wore white jeans and a rumpled blue work shirt. His concession to the fact he was part of corporate America was a tie; as befit a Silicon Valley businessman, though, the design wasn't stripes or Jerry Garcia flowers but a cartoon Tweety Bird.

"Hey, Lara." He walked up and shook her hand, leaned against the bar. "Remember me? I'm Will Randolph. Sandy's cousin? Cheryl and I met you on Nantucket -- at Fred and Mary's wedding."

Right, that's where she recognized him from. He and his pregnant wife sat at the same table with Lara and her boyfriend, Hank. "Sure. How you doing?"

"Good. Busy. But who isn't around here?"

His plastic neckwear read Xerox Corporation PARC. She was impressed. Even nongeeks knew about Xerox's legendary Palo Alto Research Center five or six miles north of here.

Will flagged down the bartender and ordered a light beer. "How's Hank?" he asked. "Sandy said he was trying to get a job at Wells Fargo."

"Oh, yeah, that came through. He's at orientation down in L.A. right now."

The beer came and Will sipped. "Congratulations."

A flash of white in the parking lot.

Lara looked toward it quickly, alarmed. But the vehicle turned out to be a white Ford Explorer with a young couple inside.

Her eyes focused past the Ford and scanned the street and the parking lots again, recalling that, on the way here, she'd glanced at the side of the van as it passed her when she'd turned into the restaurant's parking lot. There'd been a smear of something dark and reddish on the side; probably mud -- but she'd thought it almost looked like blood.

"You okay?" Will asked.

"Sure. Sorry." She turned back to him, glad she had an ally. Another of her urban protection rules: Two people are always better than one. Lara now modified that by adding, Even if one of them is a skinny geek who can't be more than five feet, ten inches tall and is wearing a cartoon tie.

Will continued, "Sandy called me on my way home and asked if I'd stop by and give you a message. She tried to call you but couldn't get through on your cell. She's running late and asked if you could meet her at that place next to her office where you went last month, Ciro's? In Mountain View. She made a reservation at eight."

"You didn't have to come by. She could've called the bartender."

"She wanted me to give you the pictures I took at the wedding. You two can look at 'em tonight and tell me if you want any copies."

Will noticed a friend across the bar and waved -- Silicon Valley may extend hundreds of square miles but it's really just a small town. He said to Lara, "Cheryl and I were going to bring the pictures this weekend to Sandy's place in Santa Barbara...."

"Yeah, we're going down on Friday."

Will paused and smiled as if he had a huge secret to share. He pulled his wallet out and flipped it open to a picture of himself, his wife and a very tiny, ruddy baby. "Last week," he said proudly. "Claire."

"Oh, adorable," Lara whispered.

"So we'll be staying pretty close to home for a while."

"How's Cheryl?"

"Fine. The baby's fine. There's nothing like it....But, I'll tell you, being a father totally changes your life."

"I'm sure it does."

Lara glanced at the clock again. Seven-thirty. It was a half-hour drive to Ciro's this time of night. "I better get going."

Then, with a thud of alarm, she thought again about the van and the driver.

The dreadlocks.

The rusty smear on the battered door....

Will gestured for the check and paid.

"You don't have to do that," she said. "I'll get it."

He laughed. "You already did."

"What?"

"That mutual fund you told me about at the wedding. The one you'd just bought?"

Lara remembered shamelessly bragging about a biotech fund that had zoomed up 60 percent last year.

"I got home from Nantucket and bought a shitload of it....So... thanks." He tipped the beer toward her. Then he stood. "You all set?"

"You bet." Lara stared uneasily at the door as they walked toward it.

It was just paranoia, she told herself. She thought momentarily, as she did from time to time, that she should get a real job, like all of these people in the bar. She shouldn't dwell so much on the world of violence.

Sure, just paranoia...

But, if so, then why had the dreadlocked kid sped off so fast when she'd pulled into the parking lot here and glanced at him?

Will stepped outside and opened his umbrella. He held it up for both of them to use.

Lara recalled another rule of urban protection: Never feel too embarrassed or proud to ask for help.

And yet as Lara was about to ask Will Randolph to walk her to her car after they got the snapshots she had a thought: If the kid in the van really was a threat, wasn't it selfish of her to ask him to endanger himself? Here he was, a husband and new father, with other people depending on him. It seemed unfair to --

"Something wrong?" Will asked.

"Not really."

"You sure?" he persisted.

"Well, I think somebody followed me here to the restaurant. Some kid."

Will looked around. "You see him?"

"Not now."

He asked, "You have that Web site, right? About how women can protect themselves."

"That's right."

"You think he knows about it? Maybe he's harassing you."

"Could be. You'd be surprised at the hate mail I get."

He reached for his cell phone. "You want to call the police?"

She debated.

Never feel too embarrassed or proud to ask for help.

"No, no. Just... would you mind, after we get the pictures, walking me to my car?"

Will smiled. "Of course not. I don't exactly know karate but I can yell for help with the best of them."

She laughed. "Thanks."

They walked along the sidewalk in front of the restaurant and she checked out the cars. As in every parking lot in Silicon Valley there were dozens of Saabs, BMWs and Lexuses. No vans, though. No kids. No bloody smears.

Will nodded toward where he'd parked, in the back lot. He said, "You see him?"

"No."

They walked past a stand of juniper and toward his car, a spotless silver Jaguar.

Jesus, did everybody in Silicon Valley have money except her?

He dug the keys out of his pocket. They walked to the trunk. "I only took two rolls at the wedding. But some of them are pretty good." He opened the trunk and paused and then looked around the parking lot. She did too. It was completely deserted. His was the only car there.

Will glanced at her. "You were probably wondering about the dreads."

"Dreads?"

"Yeah," he said. "The dreadlocks." His voice was flatter, distracted. He was still smiling but his face was different now. It seemed hungry.

"What do you mean?" she asked calmly but fear was detonating inside her. She noticed a chain was blocking the entrance to the back parking lot. And she knew he'd hooked it after he'd pulled in -- to make sure nobody else could park there.

"It was a wig."

Oh, Jesus, my Lord, thought Lara Gibson, who hadn't prayed in twenty years.

He looked into her eyes, recording her fear. "I parked the Jag here a while ago then stole the van and followed you from home. With the combat jacket and wig on. You know, just so you'd get edgy and paranoid and want me to stay close....I know all your rules -- that urban protection stuff. Never go into a deserted parking lot with a man. Married men with children are safer than single men. And my family portrait? In my wallet? I hacked it together from a picture in Parents magazine."

She whispered hopelessly, "You're not... ?"

"Sandy's cousin? Don't even know him. I picked Will Randolph because he's somebody you sort of know, who sort of looks like me. I mean, there's no way in the world I could've gotten you out here alone if you hadn't known me -- or thought you did. Oh, you can take your hand out of your purse." He held up her canister of pepper spray. "I got it when we were walking outside."

"But..." Sobbing now, shoulders slumped in hopelessness. "Who are you? You don't even know me...."

"Not true, Lara," he whispered, studying her anguish the way an imperious chess master examines his defeated opponent's face. "I know everything about you. Everything in the world."

Copyright © 2001 by Jeffery Deaver

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First Chapter

Chapter One

The battered white van had made her uneasy.

Lara Gibson sat at the bar of Vesta's Grill on De Anza in Cupertino, California, gripping the cold stem of her martini glass and ignoring the two young chip-jocks standing nearby, casting flirtatious glances at her.

She looked outside again, into the overcast drizzle, and saw no sign of the windowless Econoline that, she believed, had followed her from her house, a few miles away, to the restaurant. Lara slid off the bar stool and walked to the window, glanced outside. The van wasn't in the restaurant's parking lot. Nor was it across the street in the Apple Computer lot or the one next to it, belonging to Sun Microsystems. Either of those lots would've been a logical place to park to keep an eye on her -- if the driver had in fact been stalking her.

No, the van was just a coincidence, she decided -- a coincidence aggravated by a splinter of paranoia.

She returned to the bar and glanced at the two young men who were alternately ignoring her and offering subtle smiles.

Like nearly all the young men here for happy hour they were in casual slacks and tie-less dress shirts and wore the ubiquitous insignia of Silicon Valley -- corporate identification badges on thin canvas lanyards around their necks. These two sported the blue cards of Sun Microsystems. Other squadrons represented here were Compaq, Hewlett-Packard and Apple, not to mention a slew of new kids on the block, start-up Internet companies, which were held in some disdain by the venerable Valley regulars.

At thirty-two, Lara Gibson was probably five years older than her two admirers. And as a self-employed businesswoman who wasn't a geek -- connected with a computer company -- she was easily five times poorer. But that didn't matter to these two men, who were already captivated by her exotic, intense face surrounded by a tangle of raven hair, her ankle boots, a red-and-orange gypsy skirt and a black sleeveless top that showed off hard-earned biceps.

She figured that it would be two minutes before one of these boys approached her and she missed that estimate by only ten seconds.

The young man gave her a variation of a line she'd heard a dozen times before: Excuse me don't mean to interrupt but hey would you like me to break your boyfriend's leg for making a beautiful woman wait alone in a bar and by the way can I buy you a drink while you decide which leg?

Another woman might have gotten mad, another woman might have stammered and blushed and looked uneasy or might have flirted back and let him buy her an unwanted drink because she didn't have the wherewithal to handle the situation. But those would be women weaker than she. Lara Gibson was "the queen of urban protection," as the San Francisco Chronicle had once dubbed her. She fixed her eyes on the man's, gave a formal smile and said, "I don't care for any company right now."

Simple as that. End of conversation.

He blinked at her frankness, avoided her staunch eyes and returned to his friend.

Power... it was all about power.

She sipped her drink.

In fact, that damn white van had brought to mind all the rules she'd developed as someone who taught women to protect themselves in today's society. Several times on the way to the restaurant she'd glanced into her rearview mirror and noticed the van thirty or forty feet behind. It had been driven by some kid. He was white but his hair was knotted into messy brown dreadlocks. He wore combat fatigues and, despite the overcast and misty rain, sunglasses. This was, of course, Silicon Valley, home of slackers and hackers, and it wasn't unusual to stop in Starbucks for a venti skim latte and be waited on by a polite teenager with a dozen body piercings, a shaved head and an outfit like an inner-city gangsta's. Still, the driver had seemed to stare at her with an eerie hostility.

Lara found herself absently fondling the can of pepper spray she kept in her purse.

Another glance out the window. She saw only fancy cars bought with dot-com money.

A look around the room. Only harmless geeks.

Relax, she told herself and sipped her potent martini.

She noted the wall clock. Quarter after seven. Sandy was fifteen minutes late. Not like her. Lara pulled out her cell phone but the display read no service.

She was about to find the pay phone when she glanced up and saw a young man enter the bar and wave at her. She knew him from somewhere but couldn't quite place him. His trim but long blond hair and the goatee had stuck in her mind. He wore white jeans and a rumpled blue work shirt. His concession to the fact he was part of corporate America was a tie; as befit a Silicon Valley businessman, though, the design wasn't stripes or Jerry Garcia flowers but a cartoon Tweety Bird.

"Hey, Lara." He walked up and shook her hand, leaned against the bar. "Remember me? I'm Will Randolph. Sandy's cousin? Cheryl and I met you on Nantucket -- at Fred and Mary's wedding."

Right, that's where she recognized him from. He and his pregnant wife sat at the same table with Lara and her boyfriend, Hank. "Sure. How you doing?"

"Good. Busy. But who isn't around here?"

His plastic neckwear read Xerox Corporation PARC. She was impressed. Even nongeeks knew about Xerox's legendary Palo Alto Research Center five or six miles north of here.

Will flagged down the bartender and ordered a light beer. "How's Hank?" he asked. "Sandy said he was trying to get a job at Wells Fargo."

"Oh, yeah, that came through. He's at orientation down in L.A. right now."

The beer came and Will sipped. "Congratulations."

A flash of white in the parking lot.

Lara looked toward it quickly, alarmed. But the vehicle turned out to be a white Ford Explorer with a young couple inside.

Her eyes focused past the Ford and scanned the street and the parking lots again, recalling that, on the way here, she'd glanced at the side of the van as it passed her when she'd turned into the restaurant's parking lot. There'd been a smear of something dark and reddish on the side; probably mud -- but she'd thought it almost looked like blood.

"You okay?" Will asked.

"Sure. Sorry." She turned back to him, glad she had an ally. Another of her urban protection rules: Two people are always better than one. Lara now modified that by adding, Even if one of them is a skinny geek who can't be more than five feet, ten inches tall and is wearing a cartoon tie.

Will continued, "Sandy called me on my way home and asked if I'd stop by and give you a message. She tried to call you but couldn't get through on your cell. She's running late and asked if you could meet her at that place next to her office where you went last month, Ciro's? In Mountain View. She made a reservation at eight."

"You didn't have to come by. She could've called the bartender."

"She wanted me to give you the pictures I took at the wedding. You two can look at 'em tonight and tell me if you want any copies."

Will noticed a friend across the bar and waved -- Silicon Valley may extend hundreds of square miles but it's really just a small town. He said to Lara, "Cheryl and I were going to bring the pictures this weekend to Sandy's place in Santa Barbara...."

"Yeah, we're going down on Friday."

Will paused and smiled as if he had a huge secret to share. He pulled his wallet out and flipped it open to a picture of himself, his wife and a very tiny, ruddy baby. "Last week," he said proudly. "Claire."

"Oh, adorable," Lara whispered.

"So we'll be staying pretty close to home for a while."

"How's Cheryl?"

"Fine. The baby's fine. There's nothing like it....But, I'll tell you, being a father totally changes your life."

"I'm sure it does."

Lara glanced at the clock again. Seven-thirty. It was a half-hour drive to Ciro's this time of night. "I better get going."

Then, with a thud of alarm, she thought again about the van and the driver.

The dreadlocks.

The rusty smear on the battered door....

Will gestured for the check and paid.

"You don't have to do that," she said. "I'll get it."

He laughed. "You already did."

"What?"

"That mutual fund you told me about at the wedding. The one you'd just bought?"

Lara remembered shamelessly bragging about a biotech fund that had zoomed up 60 percent last year.

"I got home from Nantucket and bought a shitload of it....So... thanks." He tipped the beer toward her. Then he stood. "You all set?"

"You bet." Lara stared uneasily at the door as they walked toward it.

It was just paranoia, she told herself. She thought momentarily, as she did from time to time, that she should get a real job, like all of these people in the bar. She shouldn't dwell so much on the world of violence.

Sure, just paranoia...

But, if so, then why had the dreadlocked kid sped off so fast when she'd pulled into the parking lot here and glanced at him?

Will stepped outside and opened his umbrella. He held it up for both of them to use.

Lara recalled another rule of urban protection: Never feel too embarrassed or proud to ask for help.

And yet as Lara was about to ask Will Randolph to walk her to her car after they got the snapshots she had a thought: If the kid in the van really was a threat, wasn't it selfish of her to ask him to endanger himself? Here he was, a husband and new father, with other people depending on him. It seemed unfair to --

"Something wrong?" Will asked.

"Not really."

"You sure?" he persisted.

"Well, I think somebody followed me here to the restaurant. Some kid."

Will looked around. "You see him?"

"Not now."

He asked, "You have that Web site, right? About how women can protect themselves."

"That's right."

"You think he knows about it? Maybe he's harassing you."

"Could be. You'd be surprised at the hate mail I get."

He reached for his cell phone. "You want to call the police?"

She debated.

Never feel too embarrassed or proud to ask for help.

"No, no. Just... would you mind, after we get the pictures, walking me to my car?"

Will smiled. "Of course not. I don't exactly know karate but I can yell for help with the best of them."

She laughed. "Thanks."

They walked along the sidewalk in front of the restaurant and she checked out the cars. As in every parking lot in Silicon Valley there were dozens of Saabs, BMWs and Lexuses. No vans, though. No kids. No bloody smears.

Will nodded toward where he'd parked, in the back lot. He said, "You see him?"

"No."

They walked past a stand of juniper and toward his car, a spotless silver Jaguar.

Jesus, did everybody in Silicon Valley have money except her?

He dug the keys out of his pocket. They walked to the trunk. "I only took two rolls at the wedding. But some of them are pretty good." He opened the trunk and paused and then looked around the parking lot. She did too. It was completely deserted. His was the only car there.

Will glanced at her. "You were probably wondering about the dreads."

"Dreads?"

"Yeah," he said. "The dreadlocks." His voice was flatter, distracted. He was still smiling but his face was different now. It seemed hungry.

"What do you mean?" she asked calmly but fear was detonating inside her. She noticed a chain was blocking the entrance to the back parking lot. And she knew he'd hooked it after he'd pulled in -- to make sure nobody else could park there.

"It was a wig."

Oh, Jesus, my Lord, thought Lara Gibson, who hadn't prayed in twenty years.

He looked into her eyes, recording her fear. "I parked the Jag here a while ago then stole the van and followed you from home. With the combat jacket and wig on. You know, just so you'd get edgy and paranoid and want me to stay close....I know all your rules -- that urban protection stuff. Never go into a deserted parking lot with a man. Married men with children are safer than single men. And my family portrait? In my wallet? I hacked it together from a picture in Parents magazine."

She whispered hopelessly, "You're not... ?"

"Sandy's cousin? Don't even know him. I picked Will Randolph because he's somebody you sort of know, who sort of looks like me. I mean, there's no way in the world I could've gotten you out here alone if you hadn't known me -- or thought you did. Oh, you can take your hand out of your purse." He held up her canister of pepper spray. "I got it when we were walking outside."

"But..." Sobbing now, shoulders slumped in hopelessness. "Who are you? You don't even know me...."

"Not true, Lara," he whispered, studying her anguish the way an imperious chess master examines his defeated opponent's face. "I know everything about you. Everything in the world."

Copyright © 2001 by Jeffery Deaver

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Interviews & Essays

The Blue Nowhere Interview

The latest from Jeffery Deaver, author of the bestseller The Empty Chair, is a suspense-filled ride that takes place inside the world of computers. Fans who want to feel close to the action can now read the book on their computers as an eBook! We asked Deaver a few questions about the book and the decision to make it available in electronic form.

Barnes & Noble.com: Because this book is about the Internet and computers, it seems like a natural choice to publish it in eBook format. How do you think your fans will react to the technical nature of this book and to your use of a new format?

Jeffery Deaver: I worked very hard in this book to make the technical aspects of the hacking and the computer world understandable. I myself am not a tech person so I spent a lot of time studying, to comprehend the concepts myself, and then writing them so a reader like me would understand them. Clarity is, of course, a writer's most important tool. Of course, my readers are used to technical information in my books -- particularly forensics and crime-related technology -- so this book is a natural for them. I know from the large amount of fan mail I get through my website, jefferydeaver.com, and the new one, thebluenowhere.com, that many fans spend a lot of time in cyberspace(or, as I call it, "the Blue Nowhere") and will appreciate the eBook format.

B&N.com: Do you think that reading this book in electronic format will enhance the reading experience?

JD: Absolutely. My whole goal as a writer of suspense is to give my readers the most intense emotional experience I can. Since the whole thrust of The Blue Nowhere is a fight between a good hacker and a bad hacker set on the battlefield of the computer world, reading the novel in an electronic format can only enhance the readers' experience.

B&N.com: How much did you know about computers before writing The Blue Nowhere? You seem to have a great deal of knowledge about computers now -- you've created plot twists that are based on specific details of computer code and decryption technology. Did you have to do a lot of research in order to write about these topics?

JD: Massive research. I've owned computers for 20 years -- though solely for word processing -- so I was vaguely familiar with the concepts. But, as in all my books, I use research to enhance the story, to move the plot along. It's never included in my books as ancillary information or for background. So I needed to learn a great deal about machines and code and hacking and the like to integrate the details into the story.

B&N.com: While some of the action in this book takes place in California, much of it takes place in the Blue Nowhere -- the intangible space of the computer world. Did you find it challenging to write such a suspenseful story when so much of the plot is removed from the physical world?

JD: Actually, my biggest challenge was limiting the number of terrible ways in which my villain could harm people through the computer world (so that readers wouldn't get numbed by the quantity of the incidents). Yes, the Blue Nowhere is intangible, but it affects so many different aspects of our lives in a very physical and real way that I had more than enough edge-of-the-seat suspense to put into the book.

B&N.com: The murderer in this story spends much of his time in front of his computer, which seems innocent enough. Yet he is an absolutely terrifying character. How did you manage to create a character so frightening though he is just sitting at a keyboard?

JD: We writers of suspense fiction are always looking for new ways to thrill our readers -- that is, we try to avoid the clichés that are so tempting to fall back on. I wanted to create a unique villain, yet one who would have an immediate impact on my readers -- I wanted to scare the socks off them. Since my bad guy -- his username is Phate -- sits at his computer and can get into his victim's machines with a few keystrokes, I wanted readers to think, Oh-oh, my keyboard feels funny or my hard drive sounds weird; maybe Phate's inside my system right now!

B&N.com: You didn't actually reference electronic books in The Blue Nowhere, but do you think that some of your tech-savvy characters (like Gillette) would have enjoyed reading in electronic format?

JD: Certainly. Gillette -- my "white-hat hacker" -- is driven by a sense of curiosity and a fascination with the new and the innovative. Of course, he'd probably want to take apart the hardware and the code to see what makes them tick. One good thing about Gillette, however -- he always put things back together again.

B&N.com: Did you know that this book might be published in eBook format as you were working on it? If so, did you think about how the book might appear electronically as you were writing?

JD: I didn't specifically know what the eBook plans were for this book, though of course the subject has come up more often recently as publishers are moving in that direction. I'm working on a new book now -- my next Lincoln Rhyme novel (the criminalist from The Bone Collector) -- and am already thinking in terms of eBook concepts.

B&N.com: In your book, some characters see the world of computers as completely dark and full of danger. Others see computers as potentially dangerous but also as an opportunity for unlimited exploration. As an author, how do you feel about electronic books? Does electronic publishing offer you new ways to explore your craft?

JD: I'm delighted, of course, with the concept of eBooks because I feel that any mechanism to enhance the storytelling experience is wonderful. eBooks are very thrilling for me as a reader and a writer; it's like being present at the invention of movable type hundreds of years ago. I was once described by an interviewer as "manipulative," which I took to be a wonderful compliment. As I mention above, I love to manipulate my readers -- to give them the most intense roller-coaster ride I possibly can. I've recently used graphic elements and maps in my books and, while staying true to the dynamics of the structure of a thriller novel, I'm looking forward to exploring the many ways that such novels can be enhanced in these exciting new formats.
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 71 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(45)

4 Star

(15)

3 Star

(4)

2 Star

(6)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 71 Customer Reviews
  • Posted July 31, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Another 5 stars for Deaver

    Fantastically written and scary look into the deceptive world of the computer criminal gone mad. I didn't want to put this book down and finished it in just a couple of days. Interesting characters, false leads, and surprising turns places this "could-be real" story in the must-read category. Even if you aren't computer-savvy, just seeing today's news will have you believing the plot. Amazing writing by Deaver. The binary chapter numbers was a nice touch too.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 9, 2010

    One of my Favorites by Jeffrey Deaver!

    This is a really fascinating novel; I've never read anything quite like it before. Deaver is incredibly knowledgable and really knows how to spin a tale. I just love his writing style. I also really liked his novels featuring Kathryn Dance, as kinesics is a fascinating subject. I've read all the Lincoln Ryhme/Amelia Sachs novels in order and loved every one of them. I saw the movie The Bone Collector years ago and didn't like it so when a friend borrowed me the book, I was skeptical. I ended up loving it and every book in the series! There are only a few novelists whose books I must buy in hardcover as soon as they are released; Jeffrey Deaver is one of those novelists. You may also like: The Jack Reacher series by Lee Child, the newer books of Ruth Rendell, and anything by Barbara Vine.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 13, 2013

    Jeffery still has the touch

    I love this writer--his plot twists are amazing and make his stories hard to put down. This one was full of computerese (is there such a term?) but this was not off-putting. Hard one to put down...

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 25, 2012

    One of my favorites

    Excellent author and story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 29, 2011

    Loved this book!

    If you are a gamer or computer geek, this is just too good to pass up.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 21, 2010

    An excellent read

    Jeffery Deaver in this book, writes the way a book ought to be written. This is an excellent read for me and I enjoyed it.

    It involves cyberspace, or the usage of the internet for mystery and for murder.

    It was a totally absorbing read, one that would be good to read again.

    J. Robert Ewbank author "John Wesley, Natural Man, and the 'Isms'"

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 7, 2009

    Great Book!

    "The Blue Nowhere" was the first Deaver book I read and the one that got me hooked on his other books. The pace was relentless and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough. I highly recommend it.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2007

    A Great Read

    I rarely read murder mystery novels so it took me a long time to finally pick up this book and read it. I was amazed at how fast I was sucked into this book! It's one of those stories that keeps you guessing at every chapter. It was very suspenseful and intelligent. This is the first book I've read by Jeffrey Deaver and now I definintely want to read more. If I could compare this book to another book I've read it would be Angels and Demons - just replace all the scientific and religious words with computer terms. I think people who are really into computers would appreciate this book. Even if you don't know much about computers you would still enjoy it because there's a glossary in the book listing the definitions to all the computer lingo. I recommend this to everyone.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted June 9, 2014

    This is one of the best crime thrillers I have ever read!

    This is one of the best crime thrillers I have ever read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 2, 2012

    Fun and so retro

    I enjoyed this book. The murder mystery part keeps the story moving. What provided me the most entertainment while reading was how out of date it was. I know for its time it was so advanced but now we are so much further advanced. I just giggle at it. It reminds me of watching the movie the Net with sandra Bullock. Fun, quick read.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 24, 2010

    You may never look at your commputer the same way

    My sister told me to read this book. ane I was so glad I did. I read it on my NOOK. From the time it was downloaded I could not stop reading it. I'm sure there are tech. type gaps and errors, but for me it was fascinating reading and full of suspense, surprises and great characters.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted November 23, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Go back to writing Lincoln Rhyme novels, Mr. Deaver...

    It's definitely what you do best. <BR/><BR/>As with "The Devil's Teardrop", there are incredible gaps in the plot - and unlike "Teardrop", in some cases Deaver doesn't explain what happened during these gaps or refer back to them in any way. <BR/><BR/>But what he does cover in "The Blue Nowhere" is a rollicking good read nevertheless, not to mention frightening - and this book is definitely worth recommending. <BR/><BR/>Deaver does need to go back over his notes in "how to write a mystery novel", though - his Lincoln Rhyme novels are proof that he knows how to do it, but so far his non-Rhyme stories look like they were written by a completely different, completely amateurish person masquerading as Jeffery Deaver. Social engineering, perhaps?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 20, 2006

    Disappointing

    OK, I'm not jaded, but I know quite a bit about computers and the web, and the premise of this book just didn't stand up. I would have liked to see less time spent on giving computer definitions and more time spent on character and plot development, rather than just some 'surprises' at the end. Too bad, because I read all the Lincoln Rhyme books and was expecting more from this one.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 25, 2004

    Amazing!

    I love Jeffery Deaver, and this book kept me just as riveted as his others have. I couldn't put the book down from the time I picked it up.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 7, 2004

    Exciting read...

    My knowledge of computers and what can actually be done with them is limited. Therefore, I'm not sure the events of this book are plausible or not. Regardless, it is a real fun book to read. The characters were easy to imagine and the plot shifts kept it interesting. I'd recommend this book to friends.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 23, 2004

    Not Even Words

    This piece of lit is one of the best techno thrillers of all time. I was lost for words when I read it, I started slow but then flew through it. I actually put down a Harry Potter book down and decided to finish this one first!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted December 24, 2003

    Terrific plot

    This is Jeffery Deaver¿s first venture into a cyberthriller and he does a pretty good job. The strength of the novel is its plot: a no-holds-barred contest between two hackers. Wyatt Gillette is doing time for a few minor computer crimes when he is offered a temporary reprieve if he helps the state police track down a murderous cracker called Phate. The plot takes one turn after another, building suspense as Phate searches for new victims and Gillette tries to stop him. Why is Phate committing these murders? Who is his partner? Who¿s the traitor within the police? Is Gillette really a good guy? Plenty of mystery and suspense to keep you turning the pages. Although the plot is terrific, the story has a couple of weak points. Deaver is not a computer pro and it shows. Although many of the inaccuracies are minor ¿ only a technically sophisticated person would notice ¿ some of them were really ridiculous (Gillette¿s fingertips are so strong from fingertip pushups that they crush keyboards during coding sessions). Another problem is that Phate turns out to be a stock character ¿ I won¿t give away the details, but you could probably put together a description without reading the novel. It¿s too bad because he starts out as an interesting, mysterious adversary. Still, the Blue Nowhere is a good thriller, well worth reading.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 10, 2003

    Wow.

    I read... a lot... and The Blue Nowhere is one of the best books I've read. It's original and interesting, full of twists. There aren't enough hacker stories out there.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 24, 2003

    The Best Ever

    I read this book after my friend told me about it. I thought it was a great book. I recommend it to everyone (Especially the computer wizards).

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 26, 2003

    A Little Light Suspense

    While not quite as chilling as some of Deaver's other novels (The Bone Collector leaps to mind), The Blue Nowhere is worth the read. There's a lot of information, a little science fiction, and a whole cast of completely developed characters. Even the minor characters are believable. One of my favorite things about Deaver, and this book is no exception, is his almost magical ability to make EVERY character believable, and still hold back just enough information to keep the reader guessing until the end of the book. My only real criticism is that he is a little heavy with his use of 'near misses' with the killer (I can't go into any more detail without giving things away). Once again, Deaver has successfully penned a little literary treat for the intelligent mind.

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