Dark Digital Sky

Dark Digital Sky

by Carac Allison

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Dark Digital Sky by Carac Allison

LA Private Investigator Chalk is hired to find three adult sons a Hollywood mogul fathered through a sperm bank many years before. United, the three half brothers discover they share a desire to be warriors. They plan a heist to prove they are worthy of enlisting with a paramilitary leader who has taken both a name and a mad inspiration from Kubrick's dark satire Dr. Strangelove. General Ripper's forces begin by robbing pharmaceutical warehouses and then mailing the stolen prescription drugs to America's veterans. They escalate to kidnapping video game designers and broadcasting their deaths. The ensuing chaos builds toward a culminating drone attack that will forever prove Ripper's warning that graphics have made warriors terrorists.

Chalk is an ex-FBI agent whose specializations are cults and computer forensics. The tools of his trade as a PI are a Porsche 911, an unregistered Glock, modified cellphones, radios, and an eclectic collection of computers. He suffers from bipolar disorder, lives alone and hopes to one day be able to see his son without the constraints placed on him by the courts.

Product Details

BN ID: 2940150078178
Publisher: Crime Planet Press
Publication date: 12/08/2014
Series: Dark Pantheon Series , #1
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
File size: 413 KB

About the Author

Carac Allison started playing with PET and Tandy computers when he was a young teen. He learned to write on a Commodore 64 but he was never much of a programmer.

When he finished his undergraduate degree, Carac started working for the University of Western Ontario as a low level clerk. He went on to found the Web and IT Team in Student Services and has directed projects on database security, electronic data interchange, mobile devices and distributed online identity. As a member of Western's Information Group on Security, the Risk Assessment team and an investigator in student hacking cases, he has seen the good, the bad and the ugly of the digital frontier.

Visit Carac Allison's website at caracallison.com

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Dark Digital Sky 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
BonesDW More than 1 year ago
Once I started this cyber thriller novel I knew I wouldn’t be able to determine if all the cyber-speak was real but I was hooked. I was off on an odyssey that gripped me by the throat and didn’t let go until the end. The protagonist is called Chalk short for Chaucer, a label he doesn’t relate to as much as his Father did. Chalk is a fully drawn character with wizardly instincts, some connections from his former military and FBI days—but not many, and his need to artificially medicate in order to operate in the world. His chemicals of choice are booze, but mostly booze and meds for his bipolar disorder. Sometimes his manic side gets control and he overdoses in an effort to even out the roll; but this doesn’t seem to interfere with his passion for the job he’s been hired to do as a solitary PI. He’s been booted from the FBI and though once he had a wife and son, he only rarely gets to see the son and then under supervised conditions. This may be the element in his future life that takes him down. Future novels will decide. His penchant for rock band T-shirts and Nehru jackets adds charm to an otherwise lonely and disparate individual. Thank G-d he gets a job to track down three anonymous sons of a rich wall street type who donated sperm and now is dying and wants to spoil his protégés. Chalk believes he’s found the three grown sons, AND, then the true storyline begins. Put on your space suit, because if you are not a hardcore techie, following the tech speak can be overwhelming. I chose to take the technology and different programs, software, etc. as described at face value, knowing that if it doesn’t currently exist, then it’s just a matter of time. Instead I chose to focus on the storyline behind three sperm children and there murky movements through a recruitment into a second level army of hackers used to support the first level ex-military recruits who were determined through the control a one mastermind; General Ripper (unknown but suspected to be an ex-military agent with a face destroyed by war) to begin drone attacks on Americans. Will the General succeed before Chalk gets it all figured out? Will the identity of General Ripper ever be known? How are these guys recruited? Why are they so seemingly in line with killing their own? Are there any who can’t go along with program? All of these questions will be answered in a fast paced technological maze that will keep you reading long into the night. You may wonder if the Dark Pantheon of cult leaders and serial killers really does exist as Chalk has often considered in his everlasting believe that the Bacchus Killer is still out there operating—for now only in the vestiges of Chalk’s subconscious. But that killer will need to wait for another time when Chalk isn’t totally occupied in stopping the carnage the General has in store for the residents of his country. Does Vegas use Non-Obvious Relationship Awareness software to track relationships between cheaters and card dealers or roulette operators? Who knows, but the idea has merit as does all the other crazies encountered in this morass of a rollicking ride of a book. It’s so futuristic and yet rests on some past movies like Dr. Strangelove, Teen Wolf, etc. that it persuades you that you need to see some of Chalks favorite movies and read some of his favorite novels that he skips through each night to stimulate his brain--which works like no brain I’ve ever encountered before. This book may be the shining star for all future thrillers. It will be interesting to see how the old shoe leather detective writers react to this panorama of a new world where crimes are solved only if technology reigns. As the old gang of serial killers dies out, will these shiny techies replace them causing a total restructuring of our pursuant agencies? Although the FBI and larger police departments are upgrading to meet the incoming criminal base, I believe Carac has an empty canvas for a short period and I believe his writing will be hard to match. Carac has erected a whole new temple unto crime, which sets the bar extremely high for others wishing to imitate Carac’s genius. BRAVO. Highly recommended reading for all levels of understanding of technology. Can’t wait for the next novel—keep ‘em coming Carac.
GrahamMoody More than 1 year ago
Exterior: Night. The Dark Digital Sky looms. Private Investigator Chalk looks up, imagining drones. Chalk returns to his apartment, works out on a treadmill while watching four screens which play archival Lakers games, horror movies, e-books, and news. Chalk is hunting a serial killer. He's a former FBI agent who is bi-polar, sometimes suicidal, and an accomplished hacker. Chalk is hired by a rich Hollywood producer to find his progeny from sperm-bank donations. Chalk finds three sons, and the producer wants to give them a lot of money. It turns into a dangerous proposition for the old man, and for Chalk. A complex web of intrigue leads Chalk to an underground militia of disaffected souls who stage daring robberies of pharmaceutical warehouses in order to send drugs to U.S. veterans, and to recruit members into a para-military domestic terrorist organization. The leader plans to take control of Air Force computers to launch drone attacks on American soil. DARK DIGITAL SKY is a product of Allison's imagination, but it's a techno-thriller with teeth. So much rings true that the reader is to be excused for temporary episodes of paranoia. The narrative is loaded with film historical and literary references, filling the imagination with jarring juxtapositions of Les Enfants and The Great Gatsby, Slaughterhouse Five and Some Like it Hot, or even Godzilla and Northanger Abbey. The devious mind which crafted this dark and suspenseful thriller will have to take some valium, rest, and then get to work on the next entry into the Dark Pantheon.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Since the website does not want to cooperate for my name, I had to "officially" leave it as Anonymous. But my name is Paul Atreides. Honest. Now, if full disclosure is necessary: I received a gift copy for my honest review. There. That part is over. Now I can get on with it. What begins as a seeming mystery about a sperm bank donor and the search for his children is turned on its head. This debut novel by Carac Allison starts a bit slow, but once you’ve gotten through the introduction, the set up, the book fairly sings. Influences of, perhaps, Spillane and, certainly, Chandler abound. It’s a first person, present tense, contemporary noir page turner. It’s not simply the plot that urges you to keep reading. Chalk, our narrator and main character, is so thoroughly likable because he’s a flawed being, and all relatable characters are flawed; without flaws they become some sort of super being. While we may root for the super hero, we can’t really relate to their struggle. And Chalk struggles. He’s an alcoholic, he downs meds when he shouldn’t and doesn’t when he should. But he’s able to hunt down his enemies because he knows himself so well. When he takes off for this final chase, we know what drives him and we not only root for him, we fear for his life - damn near as if we were riding shotgun in that Porsche. An enormous amount of research had to have been done to write this novel. Technical stuff abounds on computers, communications, military, pharmaceuticals, psychoses: it’s all in there and, surprisingly, doesn’t slow the story. Allison does such a good job of working in the explanatory details so the reader understands not only the what, but the why; it flows seamlessly. Each chapter foreshadows the next and ties to previous ones, keeping the plot moving and understandable. As an author myself, at first glance I found so many broken rules, yet as I continued to read it became obvious Allison not only broke them deliberately, he broke them effectively. They provide the rhythm the book needs. They speak to the characters quirks and ticks. First person isn’t always a good choice for a debut novel. To maintain the proper point-of-view can be tough. Writing first person, present tense? Well, that’s just plain asking for trouble. But, the author has accomplished both flawlessly. If the author ever slipped with POV, it wasn’t noticeable. Passages that slip to past tense as a means to provide necessary back story, such the one that provides insight to Chalk’s loveless existence, transition so well you don’t realize the tense has shifted. I found myself wondering about the endless parade of t-shirts the protagonist dons, hoping all would come to light. And so it does. On the last page. This being the first in a series entitled “Dark Pantheon,” I’m eagerly looking forward to more.
TheBibliophilicBookBlog More than 1 year ago
Chalk is a PI who has been worn down by the roll of the genetic dice and the hand life has dealt. Unnaturally hyperaware of his psychological state, Chalk uses a plethora of medication, both doctor- and self-prescribed to keep it together. However, his ex-wife, ex-partner, and those around him might disagree with his definition of keeping it together. Chalk has been hired to find the children of a rich and famous Hollywood mogul which were conceived through his donations to a sperm bank. Once Chalk finds them, he uncovers the threads of a huge conspiracy which threatens our entire way of life. Plucking these threads leads Chalk on a labyrinthine quest to find one of the members of the Dark Pantheon. DARK DIGITAL SKY is a warning wrapped in an archetypal noir mystery, well-written and highly engrossing. While not every reader may be able to easily connect with Chalk, I found him to be compelling and even sympathetic in an odd way. We’re introduced to what Chalk calls the Dark Pantheon, movers and shakers in an underground world of evil whose main goals are to cause chaos and pandemonium. DARK DIGITAL SKY has a feel to it sort of like ‘The Matrix’ or ‘A Scanner Darkly’ and while the seemingly disparate pieces come together nicely, the answers open up more questions for Chalk and lead him deeper down the rabbit hole. I enjoyed DARK DIGITAL SKY, devouring every detail, and I am looking forward to the next installment in the Dark Pantheon series.
lgpiper More than 1 year ago
This book is a rather interesting melding of literary genres. Fundamentally, it is classic, hard-boiled detective fiction, but mixed with oodles of geek porn, and whose background motivation borrows from the dystopian nightmares of the Millennial generation. Sounds like rather a mishmash, but Allison has done an excellent job weaving all this together into a compelling story.  The protagonist, Chalk (just Chalk, no Mr. and certainly not <em>Chaucer</em> ), is a private eye, cut from the mold of Philip Marlowe, Raymond Chandler's great invention (or if you prefer, think Sam Spade or Guy Noire). He's a bit of a loaner, he's irreverent, he mulls over the human condition, he's dogged, he's not above stretching legal boundaries to accomplish his tasks. Unlike Marlowe, he has admitted mental illness issues, mostly controlled by appropriate medications. Also unlike Marlowe, he does much of his sleuthing via various forms of modern electronic technology, hacking people's corporate and government networks, planting bugs and cameras in people's houses (after first disabling the house's electronic security), finding interesting ways to tap people's cell phones (bluesnarfing, cloning,...). But, like Marlowe, he also spends a lot of time driving around, talking to people: stroking them, bullying them, or conning them, as necessary.  The writing style also reminds me very much of Chandler, straight forward and to the point. As for the story itself, Chalk is hired to find the possible genetic sons of a rich media mogul. Many years previously, the mogul had donated to a sperm bank. The mogul now finds himself with a terminal disease and wants to meet his &quot;sons&quot;. So Chalk hacks into the sperm bank's data base to find the young men. Along the way, he becomes drawn into a weird shadow, domestic terrorism plot overseen by a reclusive, faceless (Joan Rivers doesn't know for squat about surgical face rearrangements compared to this guy) General Ripper. General Ripper is part of the Dark Pantheon: <blockquote> Serial killers that are never caught, never even known. Cult leaders who secretly access ancient rites to further modern madness. Technological shamans conjuring chaos. I am confident that General Ripper is a member of this Dark Pantheon. These dark figures know of each other and likely even communicate. </blockquote> Gen. Ripper is amassing a terrorist organization of army veterans and youthful hackers, including the possible sons-via-sperm-donation of the rich mogul (two would-be warriors, albeit not veterans, one talented hacker). They seem to  be united, in part, by a desire to return to the warrior's way of &quot;authentic violence&quot;. In our current method of war making, drone warfare, soldiers sit at video screens, little knowing whether they're confronting real enemies or merely playing video games: <blockquote> Graphics have made warriors terrorists. </blockquote> Rather a dark assessment of our approach to &quot;defending&quot; ourselves from possible &quot;enemy threats&quot;, but also, sadly, somewhat apt. So, all in all, you've got an updated version of Philip Marlowe (or Sam Spade or Guy Noire), who isn't too finicky about the methods he uses to combat archetypal evil, but who ultimately produces results others could not. Something like that. It's a compelling story, well worth one's time, and seasoned with lots of tasty morsels for thought regarding the human condition. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is excellent post-punk noir fiction, and, after the first 30 pages, I tore through it.  Characterization and pacing, again, after the first little bit, are excellent, and while the prose could use a bit of clean up here and there, it is snappy and tight. I don't do spoiler reviews, but I will say that the plot is modern and original, even while the style feels vintage and authentic. Hits lots of 90s cultural references but not in such a way that it takes you out of the moment. The very beginning of the book was a bit choppy and disorienting for me, but once the book hits its stride, it is all good. I look forward to the next installment. *The author provided a copy for me to read and review.
Rob_Ballister More than 1 year ago
Solid story well told. Classic PI, but with a twist. The hero is a former FBI agent who in addition to being brave to the point of reckless is also about as tech savvy as they come. He can crack networks, steal passwords, hack into databases, whatever is needed. The end result is a story that appeals to both PI mystery junkies and also techno-geeks. Some of the tech was over my head, but for the most part it seemed both understandable and believable. The story itself has plenty of twists and turns to keep it interesting, and the overall premise of an underground network of serial killers is a good intro to the franchise. Definitely worth the effort.
BillGlover More than 1 year ago
This is a well written, fast-paced story you will likely read non-stop. Carac Allison writes about Los Angeles, bikers, computer crime and mental illness with an authority that never stumbles. The author did his homework and it shows. There is no obvious hand waving here. If a hardboiled detective from the forties where to reincarnate today, he would likely sound something like Chalk, but Carac Allison's protagonist in DARK DIGITAL SKY is not just Sam Spade in a concert t-shirt. This isn't a hardboiled detective novel, because Chalk's quirks and weaknesses are not exaggerated or romanticized or oversimplified for effect and could be the problems of someone in your own family. This is not a cyberpunk novel because the technology in Chalk's world is real. This is not a science fiction thriller because the ominous threat and the countdown to disaster is straight out of tomorrow's headlines. This story has all of those elements, but it's something more, and as the start of a series, it hints at a world that will only grow richer and weirder as we learn more. It is worth your time to read DARK DIGITAL SKY, and I will be looking forward to the sequel. Disclosure: I received a free reviewer's copy of this story.
JudgeNerd More than 1 year ago
No spoilers here. Just praise, appreciation, and advice. I'm not certain how Carac managed to write it, but DDS is one alternate future of my life. His crystal ball was channeling my innermost fears about my own life. I have a phobia of high school reunions for fear that they will turn into a reenactment of &quot;Grosse Pointe Blank&quot; starring yours truly instead of John Cusak's uninspired performance. I suppose that means I'm one divorce away from becoming Chalk. But I digress... Other reviewers have regaled the hard-boiled noir goodness that Carac paints in bold strokes, so I will highlight something new... The protagonist, Chalk, is a fundamentally broken person. And you'll love him anyway. Carac masterfully captures the essence of being bipolar. It's exceedingly rare that mental illness gets such an accurate AND sympathetic treatment. Reading Chalk's ordeal throughout the book was like having an out of body experience. Carac delivers a characterization that only another beeper would know to be authentic. Believe it. I'm holding back just one star for three reasons. First, I'm kind of a grammar Nazi, and there were a couple of places where a little more editing could have made all the difference. Not enough to ruin the book in any way. I loved it! Second, Carac buried the lead! Several of them, actually. DDS bordered on having &quot;too much of too many things&quot;. It feels as if he want to give the reader more than enough room to &quot;figure it out&quot; for themselves from the subtle foreshadowing. I personally don't read escapist fantasy to actually try and figure out the mysteries -- I'm just here to enjoy the story. From that perspective, &quot;Dark Digital Sky&quot; is an excellent romp with many enormous social comments to make. Although he technically wrote a &quot;situation&quot; with no character arc for the protagonist, not a &quot;story&quot; with a character arc, Carac uses his vehicle to lob huge, well-placed artillery shells at many sacred cows in our modern society. (Most of which I applaud.) The urgency of the story could have benefited from dialing up the foreshadowing of certain elements a little earlier in the story. No spoilers here! Third, my inner geek had to cover his ears and shout &quot;La-la-la-la-la!&quot; a lot when Chalk was engaged in techno-sorcery. I've been in the industry for decades, and at times the technomancy was either dated or fabricated. If you don't write software or do penetration testing for a living, you won't notice a thing and you'll enjoy the story all the more for how freely he drops brand names and uses techniques that sound plausible to the layperson. Carac abides by all the laws of drama and TV tropes. A little fantasy never hurt any story. Punch line: I will definitely read this one again. Can't wait for the sequel.
Bob1001 More than 1 year ago
Much of the first half is spent developing the characters and we get a good feel for the characters, strangely and I can think of no reason throughout the book I felt that the main character &ldquo;Chalk&rdquo; was a woman despite it was made clear he was not. Anyway Chalk as an ex-FBI now private detective is taking cases that he thinks interesting and investigates in his own way. Throughout the first half he is tracking and reuniting 3 brothers with their father (well sperm donor father). However with the exception of Chalk little is made of these characters in the second part where the pace picks up and it becomes a much more exciting story. I liked the way Chalk&rsquo;s background influences the way he acts and his struggle with his mental illness. In all a good story but felt that a lot of the first part was wasted. This works well as a stand alone story but as it is part one I expect we will hear much more of Chalk.
veggiechef More than 1 year ago
If I'm ever in need of a private detective, I want Chalk on my side. He knows stuff. He knows a LOT about the digital world, how to obtain any information he wants. If he doesn't know,how to get the information himself, he has resources that do. This guy is smart! Unfairly terminated from his job at the FBI, Chalk uses his skills and intelligence working as a private investigator. A rich client hires him for a case that turns out to be much more complicated than it appeared. Chalk has his demons and his flaws, but he's a good guy that I'd want helping me if I never needed it. The technical aspects of this story are fascinating. The author does a great job of incorporating this information into the plot as Chalk solves the case. I would have liked to see more of Chalk's personal relationships explored, but his character development in Dark Digital Sky was well done.
necromage93 More than 1 year ago
This book is hard to categorize, but whatever you classify it as, it remains a wonderfully entertaining and immersive yarn. The hero, like so many of the good ones, is highly flawed, and with quirks galore. The quirks, however, quickly endear him to the reader. The story starts off as a relatively simply case, of locating a set of brothers. Technology is relied upon heavily, but unlike some lazy authors I could mention but won't, Carac either knows his tech or spent a lot of time researching it. Almost everything technological done in this book is portrayed correctly, even if not in a lot of detail (one gets the impression that the detail could have been added, but would have slowed down the action), and no shortcuts (magic bullets) are used. This book employs misdirection really well, to the point that the missing brothers' case segues into a very entertaining militaristic techno-thriller seamlessly. And just when you think the book is wrapping up, and you're a bit sad it is, a new but logical twist is added and it shifts into high gear all over again. The villain is, perhaps, the only really fantastic element in the whole story as he seems to be beyond human. And he's not the only one, as there are hints dropped of a whole &quot;Dark Pantheon&quot; of these evil doers, or serial killers (hence the subtitle of what I hope will be a series of many books). He is the only one of the pantheon to appear in this book directly, though the hero knows for sure of one other, and many more are presumed to be out there. The villain's plan was decades in the staging, and I seriously doubt anyone, psychotic, ultra human, or whatever, would have that kind of patience. Still, that's a small suspension of disbelief, and easily given, in the service of such a finely crafted story. The supporting cast in the book are also well crafted, though not given too much &quot;screen&quot; time. One hopes they'll be given more development in future installments. I rarely give anything 5 stars. You can go check. I will be buying everything else Carac writes from now on.
DouglasWinslowCooper More than 1 year ago
It takes a brilliant writer to create a plausibly brilliant detective, whether it be Arthur Conan Doyle&rsquo;s Sherlock Holmes or Agatha Christie&rsquo;s Hercule Poirot. Allison&rsquo;s private investigator is nick-named &ldquo;Chalk,&rdquo; but his English professor father had christened him &ldquo;Chaucer.&rdquo; Chalk&rsquo;s eight tattoos are the covers of eight great books, several of which I would have chosen, also. None of which I would have painted indelibly on my body, however. Chalk&rsquo;s opinions about these books and his knowledge about a wide variety of topics make his brilliance credible. The story begins with Chalk&rsquo;s being hired by a Hollywood mogul, the filthy-rich Hyena, to track down three possible offspring that might have resulted from the mogul&rsquo;s sperm donations during a period of personal penury. Using skills partly acquired during his short-lived career as an FBI agent, Chalk identifies three probable sons of the Hyena: young men notable for their anti-social activities, not so different from their putative father&rsquo;s behavior. Eventually, the young men are recruited into a conspiracy by General Jack Ripper [his pseudonym], a plot that includes crashing drones into buildings along the West Coast. Why? The General is a nut, a very bitter nut. I found Chalk a bit hard to like. His loss of his son to a conniving wife is sad, but the woman simply was even more unscrupulous than Chalk, who lies his way throughout his pursuit of the truth. A bipolar, manic-depressive, personality barely controlled by drugs and drink gives our hero added depth, although what is at the bottom of that depth is to me unattractive. Well, we find Hercule Poirot and Sherlock Holmes unlovable at times, too. All three are surprisingly effective as detectives. A sub-plot concerns Bacchus, a man who makes young women disappear, to re-appear as ingredients in the brownies he distributes at rock concerts. A family I know lost their eldest daughter decades ago when she ran away from home in her teens, never to be heard from again. Chalk maintains that there is a &ldquo;dark pantheon&rdquo; of serial killers behind the many people who become permanently missing every year. Carac Allison has written a fascinating novel, succeeding in solving the central puzzle while leaving some loose ends to be tied up in a sequel or two or three. I await the next one eagerly.
rfwatts More than 1 year ago
I was given a copy of this book to review, and was incredibly surprised it was a first novel. From details of digital security to hacking bluetooth to drone operation to minute details of life in the bipolar lane, this author has done his research. There is an astounding amount of material covered in the labyrinthine plot that lovers of the WWF, military weaponry, and meth labs will find right up their alley. Stay alert, because this novel will challenge your perceptions and understanding of the world on a number of levels. Even with my computer manufacturing background I learned quite a lot about security that had passed me by, and more about the underbelly of wrestling than I cared to know. The only shortcoming of this novel is this: I need to relate to someone at some level to really bury myself in a book and care about what's happening, but there was no one I could find that I could relate to. Initially the main character intrigued me, but then he lost me with his constant relationship with stabilizing drugs, although other folks might find him just their cup of tea. So while I am enormously impressed with the details (Tom Clancy would have eaten his heart out to have had this level of detail on this variety of subjects), I ended up not really caring a lot about what happened to anyone. I did, however, find quotes and passages that I have marked as some of the more insightful views of life that I have ever found, and I will be going back and rereading them every so often to adjust my own perception. Thumbs up for a fantastically well written novel!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Chalk is the new modern private investigator. he's quite adept with computers and using them makes his job that much easier. A former FBI agent, he works out of L.A. and drives a Porche 911(must blend in with other L.A. inhabitants. He owns a large assortment of rock Tee shirts which he changes quite frequently. He also has his own mental demons to deal with. Chalk is hired by a rich man to find his biological sons and get them together for a meet. They are the result of a sperm donation years ago. The man is dying from cancer and wants a connection before it's too late. A simple enough assignment, but things don't go as planned and the trio forge a bond and leads Chalk into a dark conspiracy involving the video game industry, the sperm bank, and a madman that changes faces almost as often as Chalk changes his shirts. Enjoyed this one quite a bit.