Earlier this year I had the privilege of reading Ian Sutherland’s first novel in his Deep Web Thriller series, Invasion of Privacy; a slick modern thriller centred around ‘white-hat’ computer hacker, Brody Taylor, who finds himself caught up in a hunt for a serial killer. Crime is not exactly my go-to genre, but Invasion of Privacy was undoubtedly one of the best books I’ve read this year. So to have then received an email inviting me to download a prequel 60-page novella, Social Engineer – for free nonetheless – I was only too happy to oblige, and excited to read more about Brody’s exploits. You can read my 5 star review of Invasion of Privacy on Goodreads here.
Ostensibly, Social Engineer has been written as an introduction to Brody’s character as well as his motivations, hacking techniques and day-to-day existence shrouded in a web of secrecy and lies, whilst trying to make a go of a relationship with an animal rights protester. The hope is that the reader will then go on to read the full-length novel, but those who have read the novel first, such as myself, Social Engineer is a nice little bonus story worth reading. Because the very nature of a novella dictates that Social Engineer cannot possibly be as informative or as in depth as Invasion of Privacy, it makes it all the more impressive that Ian Sutherland manages to cram so much in.
Brody’s character in the space of less than 100 pages succeeds in coming across as believable, consistent, intelligent and likeable, despite also being a self-confessed compulsive liar who walks a fine line between what is legal and what is not. The idea to pitch a much-needed, ground-breaking scientific discovery – in this case a cure for Alzheimer’s – against horrific but perhaps necessary animal testing (the latter of which was skilfully and subtly handled by the author) only helps to emphasise this blurring of black and white morality, which again I find impressive for a short story; to actually go so far as to include symbolism and social commentary with such a low page count. The writing is good, with no typos or formatting errors (important in a self-published work like this one). The story itself is tight with a solid beginning, middle and an open-ended, but very satisfying conclusion. The plot meanwhile is a little predictable, especially if you have read Invasion of Privacy first. Likewise, if you do read Invasion of Privacy after Social Engineer, expect to find yourself treading over old ground with the first Brody-centred chapter, the opening setting of which is very similar to this novella.
So, if you are looking for a (very) quick, pacey little Crime read with the potential to introduce you to something clever and more involved, and wish to support deserving, talented indie authors, I thoroughly recommend that you give Ian Sutherland’s Social Engineer a go. Hopefully you’ll pick up Invasion of Privacy afterwards too and enjoy it as much as I did.
For more information on the Deep Web Thriller series and Ian Sutherland, please visit his official website: