When online bullying drives his son to suicide, a stricken Mick Greco became obsessed with ways to change the Federal laws shielding this multi-trillion dollar industry from legal consequences. But in his son's case he also believed there was something more sinister at work: a new type of serial killer, one that used online strategies to manipulate his targeted victims. Dismissed as the crackpot theory of an overwrought father, a frustrated Mick leaves his job as a SFPD detective to join a firm that specializes in getting even with anyone who would dare use social media, including online forums, to destroy other people or spread lies, conspiracies, or propaganda.
Now, Mick spends his days involved in helping to prosecute internet defamation lawsuits, reputation repair, and gleefully tracking down those perpetrators of Internet slander, cyber libel, and online bullying who are under the wrong assumptions they are untraceable and/or protected by the First Amendment. More like a calling than a job, Mick's damn good at what he does, even if it means nailing and exposing only one miserable bad actor at a time.
But in the era of proliferating conspiracy theories and rising white supremacy, Mick's latest and biggest client is an Internet news organization that is under relentless doxxing and defamatory and cyber-attacks for publishing exposes that some are willing to kill to keep buried. Already one reporter is dead, ostensibly from a drug overdose, though her publisher is not so sure. But even when the media outlet's staff become victims of a mass shooter, the authorities and politicians do little to enact any protections for people and organizations citing free speech issues.
Mick, however, sees something more sinister at play and discovers that the dead reporter's last investigative piece was on Social Engineering Attacks: Hacks to Manipulate Human Psychology. Following intricate clues, Mick tracks down a cabal of software engineers and government agents designing cyber weapons. Ultimately he uncovers a level of manipulation by social media algorithms and bots that are not so much underpinning insurrections or the downfall of a country, but actually creating an assassination squad, a digital hit team. And to top it off, Mick's all-too-real serial killer may be connected to the gang.
"Nine Seconds" will appeal to readers of: "The Informationist" (Vanessa Michael Munroe series) by Taylor Stevens "The Late Show" (Renee Ballard series) by Michael Connelly "Baltimore Blues" (Tess Monaghan series) by Laura Lippman "UNSUB" by Meg Gardiner "The Hypnotist" by Lars Kepler