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Death by Probability
     

Death by Probability

4.0 1
by Urno Barthel
 

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A prim and pristine research lab isn’t the type of place where murders are supposed to happen – but it may just be the place where the brutal crime is solved.

When Evan Olsson finds his mentor’s bloody body sprawled on the floor of a top-secret computer research lab, the sanctity of this cloistered, clandestine world is shattered. Who would, or

Overview

A prim and pristine research lab isn’t the type of place where murders are supposed to happen – but it may just be the place where the brutal crime is solved.

When Evan Olsson finds his mentor’s bloody body sprawled on the floor of a top-secret computer research lab, the sanctity of this cloistered, clandestine world is shattered. Who would, or could, do such a thing – and why? Evan enlists the help of a reluctant FBI partner and every computer science and nanotechnology tool in his arsenal to unravel the mystery. But Evan’s quest leads him to uncover a potentially catastrophic hacker plot that threatens the U.S. and Canadian electrical power network and the millions relying on it.

Death by Probability is a genre-bending tour de force that weaves in technology and fringe science, friendship and romance, computer intelligence and human frailty for a riveting read that builds to a fast-paced climax. Crafted by physicist-turned-author Urno Barthel, the book is a delight for those who enjoy technology and science fiction, as well as mystery buffs who revel in plausible stories and fully formed characters that pull them seamlessly into another, thrilling realm.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
2014-11-19
In Barthel's debut techno-thriller, the death of a scientist in a California lab could be murder, and his posthumously discovered message warns of a possible terrorist attack in the U.S.Evan Olsson works at Halsted Aeronautic Laboratory for two years before he even hears of HAL's secret lab, the Sensitive Compartmented Information Facility. His boss asks him to summarize, in nontechnical terms for the benefit of HAL customers, the scientists' projects carried out in the SCIF. When Evan's SCIF boss and mentor, Will Davenport, is found dead is his office, Evan takes over Will's project, analyzing data for the FBI—namely emails or other forms of communication from suspected drug dealers. But an encrypted video message from Will leads Evan to believe that someone murdered him for getting too close to a covert group plotting to cripple the U.S. by sabotaging its electrical power network. As Evan fears that a killer may target him as well, he teams up with Matt Emerson, a Fed who'd worked with Will on the project, to shut down drug dealers and potential terrorists that, Evan discovers, may have ties to Will's murderer. The novel is a deft blend of techno-thriller and murder mystery, and the latter is promptly established by opening with the discovery of Will's body. Evan's SCIF assignment has him interviewing scientists about their projects, including two men developing small, imperceptible transponders, and each of these people ultimately becomes a suspect, as the high-level security at HAL practically guarantees that the killer is employed at the lab. Evan is a curious protagonist whose initial behavior is perplexing; the first thing he does after learning of his boss's death is take Holly, a colleague married to another HAL scientist, to lunch and strongly suggest that they have sex (he later concedes that he "felt like a creep"). But his amateur investigation is solid. He whittles down the suspect list with the barest of clues, having seen neither the body nor any data collected by the FBI (which didn't treat it as a crime scene), and his paranoia is well-founded since he's dealing with scientists who prefer keeping their work secret. The best sequences are of Evan conversing with his artificial intelligence, Al; their discussions not only accommodate updates on the progressing case, but are quite humorous as well.A sound thriller/mystery with drug dealers, terrorists and a memorable lead character.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781478722786
Publisher:
Outskirts Press, Inc.
Publication date:
01/10/2014
Pages:
280
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.63(d)

Meet the Author

Urno Barthel is the pen name of Art Chester, a physicist turned technology manager turned writer. His characters are based on real scientists whose quiet lives are disrupted by terror and murder. Art invites you to his website, which offers commentary about science in our lives, and fiction about scientists:

http://artchester.net

After many years in Malibu, California, Art now spends his time in Michigan, New York state and Hawaii.

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Death By Probability 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Valerie Rouse for Readers' Favorite Death by Probability is a suspense novel surrounding the death of Willard, a scientist at the HAL facility.  The main character, Evan Olsson, is thrown into the deep end when he tries to solve this murder mystery. Evan was being trained by Willard for about a month and, before his death, Willard sent Evan an encrypted video message informing him of the work he wanted Evan to continue for him. Willard had apparently stumbled upon some evidence leading to an impending dangerous coup or disaster. He wanted Evan to dig further so as to expose the perpetrators. The intrigue is set in motion when Evan seeks to trim his list of likely suspects. Almost all of the science lab employees were eligible. The process of elimination was very tedious. Evan deliberated as to the motives and interpersonal work relationships of each co-worker to solve this murder. Author Urno Barthel also reveals the development of Evan’s non-existent love life to one of passionate togetherness with Lissa, the sister of one of Evan’s work mates. Death by Probability is a well developed book which is very intriguing. The pace is a bit slow at first, but as the action surrounding Willard’s death steps up, the plot becomes more enthralling. I love the way in which Mr. Barthel switches between Evan’s work life and love life throughout the novel. This makes Evan seem more realistic and it also gives you the impression that human interaction is vital to our social existence as humans. In contrast to Evan’s consistent dialogues with his personal computer, Al, it is gratifying to see Evan have an emotionally satisfying personal relationship at last. This aspect of man vs machine has far-reaching implications. According to Mr. Barthel’s story, the development of computer technology is both good and bad. It can easily replace the need for human interaction as well as create intentional disasters akin to the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy. Death by Probability is an interesting read concerning technological advancement. I recommend it to all readers looking for a suspenseful high.