Zero Day: China's Cyber Wars (Logan Alexander)
by TL Williams
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
First Coast Publisher Trade Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780988440067
Date: 01 February 2017 List Price $15.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /
In Zero Day: China's Cyber Wars, Logan Alexander, an American, is head of the Hong Kong office of a Boston-based company named Alexander Maritime Consulting. A former Navy SEAL, Logan, and his company also do some side work for the CIA. Since Logan is in Hong Kong for legitimate business reasons, he and his fellow Alexander Maritime employees can operate without attracting the attention of Chinese authorities.
The story starts as Logan is heading toward a clandestine first meeting with a new Chinese informant to the US government. Earlier, the informant, Li Jiang, slipped a note into the car of a US Embassy employee in China saying that China is planning a cyber attack against the US and that he wants to provide the information to help stop it. First, the CIA must determine if Li is a legitimate contact, or if he is a plant put in place by the Chinese government for counterintelligence.
The first meeting between Logan and Li is disrupted when the Chinese police show up in the same area for an unrelated case, and Logan and Li escape the area without ever making contact. Much of the story and the suspense is about how Logan and Li are able to communicate without getting caught, and they finally have their first meeting.
It turns out that Li is part of the Chinese PSB or Public Security Bureau. He heads up a group of elite hackers involved in computer network operations against the US, and his cooperation, if real, would be of big value to the US. Li elected to provide information to the US because he is disillusioned with all the corruption in the Chinese government. Li feels that the corrupt Chinese government has hurt many people who deserved better; one of them was his father. Li tells the US about the upcoming cyber attack, or Zero-Day attack, which is aimed at undermining the US dollar as the leading currency in the world and replacing the US as the number one economy in the world.
The FBI, CIA, and a few other government groups set up a Special Access Program/ China Cyber Team to process Li's information. Through numerous clandestine meetings with Logan, the US believes that Li is legitimate and launches a counter-campaign to thwart the Zero-Day attack. Logan and his team are very good at what they do and are able to break into various cyber headquarters in China and plant electronic bugs, all the while continuing secret meetings with Li. I can't tell you more details without spoiling the story.
The pace of the story is very good. There are several smaller subplots that help to develop the various characters in the FBI and CIA offices, Logan and Li and their families. The subplots include an active shooter at a military base shooting range, Li's role as a father with his son, a mole working for the Chinese in the US government, and a defense contractor that inadvertently allows a computer virus on his systems that the Chinese can use to gather data.
I was a little surprised at the savagery of some of the spy operations. In a few cases, when Logan had to get to a specific place and a specific person or a security guard was in the way, Logan killed him. Boom. Done. Over. We don't like to think about things like that when we are sitting at home watching Netflix, but I suppose high stakes operations like cyber crimes overseas involve many things we don't want to think about.
Zero Day: China's Cyber Wars is fun to read. It is technical, but not overly so. It grabs your interest and keeps it, but you don't need a degree in cyber electronics to understand it. Zero Day: China's Cyber Wars is actually part of a series but more than enough background information is present to understand the story. I have not read the earlier books and I had no trouble following the story. I hope that another novel in the series comes out soon because I really enjoyed Zero Day: China's Cyber Wars.
From: T.L. Williams:
Thank you for taking the time to write a thoughtful review of Zero Day: China's Cyber Wars. I'm glad you enjoyed the book. I am almost finished writing the fourth book in this series, tentatively called 'The Last Caliph' which is about ISIS efforts to recruit a gift column of terrorist in the U.S.