The Doomsday Virus
Barry Silverstein
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The Doomsday Virus

Barry Silverstein
340 pages
February 2003
rated 4 1/2 of 5 possible stars

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Even though I would describe myself as somewhat of a computer novice, Barry Silversteinšs novel The Doomsday Virus captured my attention, thrilled and chilled me, and made me a whole lot smarter about the potentially devastating problem of computer viruses that could literally wipe out our computer-dependent financial, communications and intelligence infrastructures.

The author, a nonfiction writer with over two decades of experience in the information technology field, takes us on a wild ride through the world of two software entrepreneurs competing to launch a new operating system, only to find that they share a common enemy in an underground hacker who hates corporate profiteering and will stop at nothing to commit his cyber-terrorism on an unsuspecting world.

Marty Gladstone and TJ Gatwick are the powerful entrepreneurs, each with his own dedicated and unique style of doing business. Erin Keliher is a highly influential Silicon Valley journalist who can make or break either or both men. Doomsday is the man who comes between them all, a brilliant but crazed hacker with the uncanny ability to create computer viruses that cannot be stopped despite every best effort of the software mega-giants and their equally brilliant programmers. Meanwhile, Gladstone and Gatwick become arch enemies as they jockey to get their product out first, resorting to underhanded and unethical business practices to do so.

When Erin and Marty become romantically involved and find evidence of Gatwick's participation in some dirty dealings, including possible kidnapping and murder, the story heats up, becoming a race to find out who is behind the mysterious sabotage attempts against Gladstone's company and to locate the evil Doomsday, who unleashes one debilitating computer virus after the other.

The clock is ticking as the FBI gets involved, utilizing Erin's reporter status as a connection with the underground Doomsday even if it puts her own life in danger. She becomes the only personal conduit to Doomsday, and offers a glimpse inside his dark and dangerous mind. As the FBI gets closer to identifying Doomsday, Gatwick and Gladstone are backed into a corner and forced to make some jaw-dropping decisions to curb the potential havoc that Doomsday is planning for Y2K.

This is one solid thriller, a real page-turner that had me up until the wee hours waiting to see what happened next. I loved the technology stuff, even being the simple layperson I am, and really became emotionally invested in the battle between the two software giants and their race to create the perfect virus protection software. But what really grabbed me was Silverstein's clever use of framing his story against true historical events, including many infamous computer viruses of the past ten years such as Melissa, Pandora, and Code Red.

This book has it all; tension, technology, romance, thrills, rivalry, a great ending that leaves everything wide open for a sequel, and characters you can get behind and either love or hate. The Doomsday Virus may be fiction, but it is about a clear and present danger we all face every single time we turn on our computer. That's what chilled me to the bone most of all.

© 2003 by Marie D. Jones for Curled Up With a Good Book

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