Invasion of Privacy: Brody Taylor #2 (Brody Taylor Series), by Ian Sutherland

This London-placed thriller works around two concurrent stories. The book centers around a sadistic serial killer who lures young women to the meeting rooms of business centers and then rapes and kills them. Beautiful and redheaded Detective Inspector (DI) Jenny Price is the principal detective working the case. The second thread of the story deals with white-hat hacker Brody Taylor. A white-hat hacker works as a security consultant for companies, working to break into their computer systems in order to find security holes that can be patched.

Taylor is one of the best-known hackers in the underground community, working under the name Fingal. He’s been challenged by another hacker to try to find security flaws in a new website. The site breaks into the signals of hidden security cameras and then sells access to voyeuristic viewers. The cameras are placed in bedrooms, bathrooms, and other areas where privacy is normally expected.

Through his work Taylor is naturally very security-conscious, especially now that a Russian mob has put out a reward of £1-million to kill him. As Taylor works through different attacks on the computer site he realizes that he’s looking into the life of at least one of the victims of the serial killer and that this may be how the killer chooses his targets. He teams up with DI Price to lend his expertise in finding the killer while still working to bring down the website.

It’s an intriguing story, a bit on the gory side for the serial killings. Readers not familiar with some of the tech talk can easily glide over it as Taylor and Price pursue the bad guy and find a little romance in the off hours. The bad guy is incredibly bad and his inner dialogue is dropped into the narrative occasionally both as hints to his personality and to keep the story flying.

The book contains some startling ideas about privacy and security, not least the notion that someone could disguise a camera as a smoke detector and broadcast it to the world. There’s a reason that lawyers on planes tape over the camera eyes on their laptops, and Sutherland, through the storytelling, manages to drop some hints about common manipulations to get people to turn over secure information.

For thriller lovers who don’t mind a little blood and a patina of romance this is a pretty gripping book — the kind that inspires a little paranoia. You may never look at your computer or your smoke detector the same way again.