Moving Target by J.A. Jance — review

The usual setting of an Arizona mystery is not enough to keep Ali Reynolds and B. Simpson busy, so in this entry in the long-standing series, they have to solve two murder/mysteries on both sides of the Atlantic. And on this side, it isn’t even in Arizona, but in Texas, where a brainy young geek is held in a juvenile detention facility because he hacked into his high school’s computer system, incapacitating it, in protest for what the school board planned to do, i.e., make students and faculty wear bracelets so their whereabouts could be determined remotely at all times.

It seems Simpson’s company specializes in computer security and identified the youth as the culprit. In doing so, Simpson discovers how the boy accomplished it: by using a program he developed which allows hacking without a trace (except it wasn’t fully developed). While in detention, the youth is severely burned and ends up in the hospital near death. Simpson is interested in obtaining rights to the program, and there are competing forces, one, presumably from a competitor, the other, possibly, from someone determined to destroy or steal it. Thereby hangs one tale.

Meanwhile, Ali travels to England with her major domo, Leland Brooks, Simpson treating him to the trip as a prelude to meeting with his family after decades of estrangement. While there, he asks Ali if they can somehow find out how his father died, some 60 years before. She undertakes the task, proving nothing stops Ali Reynolds when she sets her mind to the task (and proved time and again in eight previous novels in the series). The plotting and narrative, as usual, are superb, and the pacing keeps the reader turning pages. While there is little to surprise the reader in the results of either plot line, the book is still an interesting read, and is recommended.

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Theodore Feit

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