Friday, July 14, 2017

Man Overboard by J.A. Jance

Reviewed by Kristin

A computer hacker named Odin and an artificial intelligence called Frigg—what could go wrong in this scenario?  Odin does feel as powerful as a Norse god with goddess Frigg by his virtual side.  He is on a mission, and it will certainly end with death.

Roger McGeary is nervous about going on a cruise, but he begins to hit his stride with the older women surrounding him and eventually (with a little liquid courage) loosens up enough to enjoy himself.  Roger was the classic Dungeons and Dragons nerd in high school, where he and his friend Stu Ramey had their own little world, far from the popular kids and pretty much any girls.  Now they are both well-paid cybersecurity experts, even if still socially awkward.

Roger has come a long way from his childhood spent with an emotionally abusive mother.  As a teen, Roger’s family life spiraled downward.  After a suicide attempt, his mother even had him committed to a psychiatric institution for years.  Although Roger’s life has improved, a sudden burst of words across the screen of his phone shocks and sends him into crisis mode.

It turns out that Roger is not the only target of the hacker.  More lives are at risk as Odin preys on the weaknesses of others as well.

Although I prefer Jance’s Joanna Brady series (a woman sheriff in Arizona) and her J.P. Beaumont series (a private investigator in Washington state), I have grown fond of the characters in the Ali Reynolds books.  Ali and husband B. Simpson (just don’t call him by his first name: Bart) are a team working well together at their investigation firm High Noon Enterprises.  Stu Ramey and Cami Lee are the very talented hired help.  I really liked that we got to know Stu better in this book.  His character was given more layers through his childhood friend and family circumstances.  Cami seems to gain confidence as she jets around the world investigating what may have been a suicide.  Another interesting character is Leland Brooks, Ali’s longtime house manager, who may need to find a replacement for himself as he cares for a long term companion who has fallen ill.
The character of Frigg is also intriguing.  “She” is an artificial intelligence, an AI who begins to develop direction of her own as Odin’s thoughts and actions verge toward the dangerous.  The world of cybersecurity is portrayed well here without being too detailed for the average reader.

Man Overboard is the twelfth in the Ali Reynolds series.  I recommend starting at the beginning with Edge of Evil and getting to know Ali and her whole crew.

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