The Hacker by Daniel Scanlan #BookReview #BlogTour

The gripping debut techno thriller from cybercrime specialist Daniel Scanlan. FBI Special Agent Ericka Blackwood chases a deadly online predator in a high-stakes hunt for the truth. Perfect for fans of Thomas Harris and Stieg Larsson.

He's online. He's anonymous. He's deadly. When a video surfaces on the Dark Web showing a murder no one else could have witnessed, FBI Special Agent Ericka Blackwood starts tracking down the killer. But the case is even darker than Ericka thought. Hidden behind an avatar named Dantalion, a criminal mastermind is feeding his sadistic appetites by directing the crimes of others – and he may have been orchestrating his twisted schemes for years.

As Ericka homes in on her target, the tables are suddenly turned. Dantalion has information that will help Ericka fulfil a deeply personal quest for revenge... but only if she risks her career, her life, and the fate of Dantalion's future victims. Does vengeance come at too high a price?

It's my pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for The Hacker by Daniel Scanlan today. Many thanks to Andrew Knowles from Head of Zeus for inviting me and for sending me a copy of the novel.

The Hacker is one of those books I wish could say was a little too far-fetched to be believable but my suspicions that it is uncomfortably close to reality were confirmed by the author's note at the end of the book. This might be fiction but it imagines the sort of scenario which could easily become fact in the very near future and as such, it's a thrilling, terrifying read.
We all know the internet has a dangerous underbelly but nevertheless, this foray into the Dark Web is eye-opening. FBI Special Agent Ericka Blackwood spends her days trying to bring some of the criminals who hide in its depths to the surface. These people are the worst of society, those we most detest and fear and it's impossible not to wonder what it must do to those tasked with hunting them down. Ericka is very clearly a damaged individual and not just because she deals with the worst of humanity. Her tragic past has driven her to relentlessly pursue this path despite the emotional and mental toll which has led to disciplinary issues and her own actions being investigated. In a novel where the main antagonist is a shadowy mystery, Ericka's strengths and weaknesses, particularly in the face of her past failures and personal battles, mean she is a fascinatingly unpredictable main character and the contrasts – and similarities – between the two are striking throughout.
The complex plot involves some high concept ideas and complicated, advanced technology but it doesn't require the reader to be experts themselves and there are enough explanations to ensure the challenges and potential solutions being discussed by Ericka and her colleagues can be understood. Even when some of the jargon is more incomprehensible, the danger presented by the seemingly invincible Dantalion is always chillingly evident. For all its disturbingly prescient scenarios, The Hacker is in many ways a good old cat and mouse thriller with two almost equally matched foes pitched against one another in a gladiatorial battle which twists and turns from one page to the next.
The demonic Dantalion is sadistic, manipulative and utterly compelling; he steals every scene he appears in and despite his true identity only being revealed late in the book, he is a memorably reprehensible villain who revels in the suffering of others. The storyline necessarily explores some harrowing subjects, including child abuse and people trafficking but while the implications of what are involved are clear, it's never described in detail or feels salacious. 
There are a number of high-octane set-pieces with the highlights being a superbly choreographed scene which sees Dantalion's plans to show the world what he is capable of put into action, and a deadly, shocking confrontation, the outcome of which is far from certain given the Faustian bargain offered to Ericka. The conclusion is nail-biting but doesn't tie up all the ends and definitely left me wanting more – I very much look forward to discovering what happens next.
The Hacker is an intriguing, compulsive thriller which shines a light into the darkest recesses of the internet and reveals a world even more frightening than expected. If the gripping plot doesn't give you sleepless nights then this all too plausible exploration into how cybercrime is likely to develop surely will. Highly recommended!

The Hacker is published by Aries and can be purchased from the publisher's website,, Hive, Waterstones and Amazon but please support independent bookshops whenever possible.

Follow the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Daniel Scanlan is a lawyer who has practised extensively in the areas of cybercrime, digital evidence, wiretap, smuggling and money laundering. He wrote the non-fiction Digital Evidence in Criminal Law and contributed 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.