A common sight in film and television is the computer hacker, a frazzled 20-something with head bent over keyboard, hammering furiously at keys until flying back from the terminal in his rolling chair to proclaim “I’m in.” The Hollywood hacker pounds out lines of glowing, flawless code, and the best of them only need seconds to penetrate the sturdiest of digital defenses. It’s exciting. It’s dramatic. It’s also utterly unrealistic.
Denver Acey in his recent novel "The Quantum Breach: A Mormon Hacker Novel" opens the firewall on what a real computer infiltration looks like, as his characters set up an elaborate two-month hack into Los Alamos National Laboratory.
Coming from a technical background, Acey lays out the anatomy of a security breach for half the novel. Instead of technical manual, however, "The Quantum Breach" laces a moving story into its deliciously accurate information dump and translates the technical details into raw narrative intensity.
After laying the groundwork for his technical premise, Salt Lake resident Acey then abandons the professor’s lectern and turns full-fledged storyteller as he spins the tale of Tanner Zane, who has recently joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and swears off his former nefarious hacker life. But kidnappers force him to go back to hacking and he works to outsmart them.
The final half of "The Quantum Breach" is a riveting whirlwind of technological prowess and intellectual one-upmanship, and the minutia take a backseat to an action-packed page-turner difficult to put down.
"The Quantum Breach" is unpolished in places, especially toward the opening, but once Acey hits his stride, the novel flows like a top-tier thriller. However, unlike many top-tier thrillers, the hints of romance stay toned down and the language stays clean, although there are gunfights, explosions and non-stop intensity.
Not only does "The Quantum Breach" make for a good yarn, but it also educates on modern hacking techniques and the potentially life-threatening dangers of leaving personal information out to dry on the Internet. A sequel to "The Quantum Breach" is set to be released next year.