Cloth, 6'/8" x 91/4"
$24.00 ($33.95 Canada)
INTERCEPTION: An Internet Thriller
by Graham Watkins
The new high-tech suspense novel from the author of Virus.
What if your personal computer correspondence was no longer safe, if your most private thoughts were intercepted and used to lure you toward a horrifying fate?
A love affair was the last thing on Grant Kingsley's mind until he discovered the Internet—and New York psychotherapist Andi Lawrence. It wasn't what Andi was looking for, either. When her patients began leaving their husbands and wives to go to lovers they'd met in cyberspace, she decided to investigate; But when she met Grant on-line, she found herself as captivated as any of her patients. Soon, she was planning a trip to Los Angeles to meet him in person.
But, unknown to Grant or Andi, someone has been monitoring their relationship. E-mail they assumed was secure has been secretly intercepted and changed. Things begin to go eerily wrong when Grant expects Andi's flight to arrive in Los Angeles on Wednesday, and she expects him to be waiting for her when she lands on Tuesday.
When Andi arrives she is met by a man who says he is Grant, and he is the man whose pictures she's received over the Net. On Wednesday, Grant meets a woman claiming to be Andi.
But what no one knows is that there is another watcher, one who understands this deception's purpose, one who is determined not to let the impostors' plans for Andi proceed as intended. But, as Andi careens toward the nightmarish fate the deceivers have planned for her, the watcher frantically races against time to find a way to save her. She cannot do it alone; her only hope--and Andi's--lies in the fact that the deceivers do not know what sort of a man Grant Kingsley is...
Praise for Virus:
"Once you're in the grip of this page turner, there's no cure except to read on to the end."—Net Guide
"A scary, fast-moving thriller . . . about the terrors and perils of technology."—Publishers Weekly
"Welcome to the really hot zone."-Entertainment Weekly
"The most entertaining and suspensful cyber-thrill can be found in bookstores with Virus. --Scott Urban, alt.books.reviews
The on-line romance seems tailor-made to serve as the *cause celebre* for the end of the millenium, combining, as it does, cutting-edge technology (which hardly anyone truly understands) with animalistic, sexual urges (which everyone does). Already, shooting e-mail messages back and forth across the Internet has led to the break-up of marriages, teens running away from home, and, in more than one instance, murder. Snatched up as a hot topic, news anchors and talk show hosts (even Ann Landers) see themselves as the arbiters of computer-spawned passion. In his latest novel, INTERCEPTION, North Carolina author Graham Watkins (KALEIDOSCOPE EYES, THE FIRE WITHIN) has combined love, industrial espionage, governmental corruption, and the latest advances in computer science to fashion a suspenseful narrative that serves as a worthy successor to his last cyber-thriller, VIRUS (Carroll & Graf, 1995).
Andrea Lawrence, a New York psychologist, begins to 'surf the net' as a means of understanding the marital traumas some of her patients are going through. In a particularly fascinating 'chat-room,' she 'meets' Californian Grant Kingsley. At first they 'speak' through aliases, but as their conversations grow warmer and more personal, they exchange e-mail addresses and strike up a friendship that quickly grows into something more, even though they have never actually seen or spoken to each other.
At first, Grant, a horse-handler at a dude ranch, is happy to communicate over the Internet. The tragic death of his first wife and second son have made face-to- face interactions at best uncomfortable for him. With the relative anonymity of chat-room conversations, he can maintain contact with others, minus any cloying attachments. But he finds it increasingly difficult to deny his attraction to the patient, understanding psychologist.
Inevitably they make the decision to meet in person. They determine that this is the only way they can tell whether or not what they seem to feel for each other is genuine. Andi will fly to Los Angeles to spend a weekend. Simple enough: either they hit it off and become lovers, or else their personalities clash and they go their separate ways.
But this is a Graham Watkins novel, and nothing can ever be that easy.
Grant and Andi's budding on-line romance is being monitored by a consciousness neither truly human nor machine. Everything they write is scrutinized, while every intimate detail of their backgrounds is being investigated. As their correspondence increases, their messages are being subtly changed without their knowledge. They are being set up, but the reasons why are uncertain. Corporate managers argue the feasibility of bringing Andi into their plan, while someone referred to only as Sue5 manipulates Grant and Andi's reality, both actual and virtual. But is Sue5 an ally or an antagonist?
It doesn't take long for Grant to discover that the woman he meets at LAX is not Andi Lawrence. An imposter, she's part of a much larger plan to throw him off-track. Meanwhile, Andi believes she's met the man of her dreams, someone who carefully steers her toward a trap, just as the slaughter-house employee guides his charge through the chute to the killing floor.
Tracing a shadowy organization known as IIC, Grant must somehow single-handedly penetrate a virtual desert fortress with all hands set against him. The clock is counting down to a nerve-wrenching conclusion, even though neither Grant nor Andi realize just how much is at stake if they lose. It would give too much away to tell you more, but let's just say that once you've completed this novel, I won't blame you if you want to drop that America On-Line subscription and never write another e-mail message in your life.
Watkins' plot unfolds smoothly and seamlessly. Since the author and his wife actually adopted the personas of Grant and Andi and wrote on-line messages back and forth to each other, the warmth and passion of the protagonists' burgeoning romance carry a verisimilitude missing from much suspense fiction. If there's any problem with the book, it's Grant's seemingly infallible attractiveness to women. Even though he's a recluse at the beginning of the book, by the novel's end we have either seen or heard about six or more women who have fallen head-over-heels in lust with the ranch-hand. Of course, this is coming from a reviewer who's lucky he didn't have to pay his wife money to walk down the aisle with him. . .
Having tackled the knotty problem of artificial intelligence in his last novel VIRUS (which takes on added significance following Kasparov's crushing defeat at the hands of supercomputer Deep Blue), Watkins picks up the concept of melding man and machine, perceiving dangerous implications for the future of all humanity. According to the author, it's not a matter of whether or not we'll ever achieve this technology--this level has already been attained. The question becomes, 'what price humanity?'
Watkins' INTERCEPTION is an adventurous, suspenseful entertainment which poses unsettling issues we will all have to grapple with--perhaps as soon as we read tomorrow's headlines.