Mystery & Thrillers





Techie and non-techie readers will enjoy Backdoor, a high-tech thriller that reveals life in the high-tech and high-stakes world of Silicon Valley.  Temptations lure those willing to “do whatever it takes” to get to a successful initial public stock offering.  Greed drives an overzealous businessman to take immoral actions to win deals.  Innocents are dragged along as they uncover the illicit plot.

Tim Denton is a software engineering manager for CyberSynthesis, a Silicon Valley-based networking company.  He is called to fix a performance problem in one of their routers.  He is ambitions and dedicated.  He hopes to strike it big with the company’s impending IPO so he works diligently to solve the customer problem to maintain the company’s image.  He discovers that the problem lies in some mysterious code he finds in the product.  As he digs deeper into the code, he is faced with more mysteries.  He enlists the help of Jennifer Ryan, an analyst at a venture capital firm.  The pair discovers that the mysterious backdoor code is part of a deal with the NSA designed to spy on unwitting users.  The deal is the key to a successful IPO and riches for those behind the plot.  Tim and Jennifer face the threat of kidnap and murder as they attempt to thwart the plot they have uncovered.

Backdoor draws upon my 30 years of experience in computer software and security.  The descriptions of the technologies used in the book are accurate to my first-hand knowledge and experience with them.  I’ve lived and worked in the Silicon Valley of California all of my life and I’ve seen the promise of riches from IPOs - the holy grail of start-ups and the maker of millionaire individuals and billion-dollar corporations.

As a software engineering manager at Hewlett-Packard Company, part of my job was to explain complex technical concepts to non-technical individuals so that they could grasp their impact on them and on our company. This effort was a translation of sorts – from techno-babble to business impact. I have used my expertise with these government product security standards and their associated evaluation processes to write several non-fiction books. These books were developed as guides to the uninitiated – to help them understand some of the complexities of these government security standards. Through these books, I wanted to share the knowledge I had gained over my decade of involvement and study on the topics. I set out to write fiction because I wanted to present true-to-life high-tech topics in ways that are understandable and interesting to read. Many authors in this genre complain about technical errors or inaccuracies in other high-tech thrillers – they find the inconsistencies annoying and we all think we can do a better job. Perhaps that is the nature of many authors with technical backgrounds or deal with tech – they are sticklers for techie details. I want my stories to be technically accurate and realistic. The technologies mentioned in my book are those I have had first-hand experience with either as a software product developer or as a consultant to developers. I wanted to leverage my experiences with computers, networks, and computer security to present interesting stories that might educate readers about the inner workings of the high-tech world especially in my home area, Silicon Valley, California – arguably the center of the technologies that drive our lives and our economies. I wanted to share some of my experiences with software, security, Silicon Valley, and life as a software geek. These are the sources of my inspiration – there is a little of me in Tim Denton. The inspiration for Backdoor came in 2013 when it was revealed that the NSA had brokered a $10M deal with a vendor to use code that had a vulnerability that the NSA knew how to exploit. IN 2014, the NSA was accused of spying on US citizens – reinforcing the distrust in some over the trustworthiness of the agency. I wondered about the temptations on the company execs to agree to the NSA deal and whether they knew about the vulnerability.

Backdoor is a high-tech thriller that grips you from the start. The story follows the likeable Tim Denton as he uncovers something sinister going on while investigating a customer complaint. Tim gets drawn into the insidious plot, and the story twists and turns before an ending that came as a surprise. The story gives great insight into life in Silicon Valley - a world that I would have never imagined was so fascinating - and the struggles of a start up company. I'm not usually a fan of technology, but the mystery and fast pace of Backdoor kept me reading. I highly recommend this! - Amazon, January 2015: