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Thursday 14 March 2024

‘The Exploit’ by Daniel Scanlan

Published by Head of Zeus Ltd,
14 March 2024.
ISBN: 978-1-80110787-7 (PB)

Daniel Scanlan’s latest book, The Exploit, sees the return of Special Agent Ericka Blackwood and her arch enemy, the power-crazed demon Dantalion.

Ericka Blackwood has been lying low since her first encounter with Dantalion came to a devastating conclusion.  Colleagues she worked with during the psychopath’s former reign of terror, believe she perished during the operation.  Even her best friend and work partner, Special Agent Tim O’Connell, doesn’t know whether she is alive or dead.  She was previously associated rather too closely with Dantalion, and this has tainted her reputation within the FBI along with other security agencies.  As a result, she has left her homeland and prefers to maintain her anonymity.  Ericka’s technological expertise matches that of her foe so when she discovers Dantalion is causing havoc again she longs to neutralise his nefarious dealings once and for all.  If she returns to the US though, she might be arrested by the very people she is trying to help.  

Demonic in nature as well as name, Dantalion is bruised but not beaten after his previous evil escapades.  He has seized control of military technology used by several of the world’s most powerful countries and can deploy vast swathes of sophisticated weaponry from his own computer.  It is only a matter of time before he causes mayhem in a live situation.  In the opening chapter, Dantalion intercepts a request for support from US Rangers within Afghanistan.  Reapers, drones with overwhelming fire power, are deployed to support the Rangers and what happens next confounds military chiefs across the globe.  It also threatens to begin a conflict of apocalyptic proportions.  Ericka realises she must enter the fray despite the personal risks she will undoubtedly face.

The ‘exploit’ in the book’s title is employed, by the author, as both a noun and a verb.  Dantalion’s aim is to perform an audacious, if ignoble, feat or exploit, by inciting an apocalypse.  Then, to achieve this feat, Dantalion, having discovered people’s flaws, uses this knowledge to exploit or coerce his hapless victims into committing appalling acts of treachery.

The Exploit is the second novel in The Ericka Blackwood Files.  It works perfectly well as a standalone and delivers a thought provoking and unsettling read.  The fast-moving narrative unfolds in  the space between two increasingly indistinguishable settings, those of the real and virtual worlds. Dantalion has the skills to exploit these technologies.  We are all becoming familiar with the ability of computer science to mislead by error or intent and the story explores the potential for a skilled operator to use such new technology to trigger a world-wide conflict.  It is a chilling scenario.

In The Exploit Daniel Scanlan has written the perfect follow-up novel.  The book recounts a futuristic tale of betrayal that oozes threat and terror on every page.  I loved it.
Reviewer: Dot Marshall-Gent

Daniel Scanlan is a lawyer who has practiced extensively in the areas of cybercrime, digital evidence, wiretap, smuggling, and money laundering. He wrote the non-fiction Digital Evidence in Criminal Law and was a contributing author to The Lawyer's Guide to the Forensic Sciences, winner of the Walter Owen Book Prize. He lives on Vancouver Island and enjoys ocean kayaking and hiking.  When not outdoors, he is reading and will read almost anything, except books about lawyers. The Hacker is his first novel. @DanielMScanlan

Dot Marshall-Gent worked in the emergency services for twenty years first as a police officer, then as a paramedic and finally as a fire control officer before graduating from King’s College, London as a teacher of English in her mid-forties.  She completed a M.A. in Special and Inclusive Education at the Institute of Education, London and now teaches part-time and writes mainly about educational issues.  Dot sings jazz and country music and plays guitar, banjo and piano as well as being addicted to reading mystery and crime fiction. 

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