"Zero Days" | Reviewed by Pat Sainz
Ruth Ware has written another entertaining murder-mystery thriller that employs her admirable knowledge of surveillance technology. (The first was “The Turn of the Key,” 2019.) In “Zero Days,” the main character uses life-saving skills that include an ability to hack the most secure websites and to physically enter buildings that seem insurmountable.
At the start of the book, readers meet Jacintha “Jack'' Cross, who is testing the physical security of a corporate building. Finding security weaknesses in buildings is her career, and she is an expert. Working on this particular job, she has been able to enter a locked fire door without any alarms going off. She sees weaknesses in the security cameras and is able to elude them. She manages to get into a ceiling crawl space and lower herself into the computer server room.
Jack works in tandem with her husband Gabe who tests the security of the company’s database. He is waiting at home for her to insert the USB stick he has given her into the company’s computers. He will then have access on his computer to all the private information stored in the database. None of this is nefarious; Jack and Gabe will present a report to the CEO so physical and technological insecurities can be fixed.
When Jack arrives home after her job is over, she finds her husband dead. His hard drive has been stolen. When the police begin their investigation, Jack becomes a prime suspect. There is no sign of forced entry. Plus, a recent life insurance policy taken out on her husband without her knowledge makes her wealthy.
With the target on her back, Jack realizes that the police will lose precious ground trying to find the killer of her husband. She runs from the police station and begins a frantic and dangerous search for the murderer. Alerts are broadcast all over the London area for her capture.
The term “zero days” refers to a hacked computer’s software vulnerability before the hack is discovered. Ware cleverly incorporates that meaning with the book’s title “Zero Days.'' Chapters begin with “Minus Eight Days'' and countdown to “Zero Days.” Each chapter represents a day.
It takes all eight days for Jack to elude the police and set in motion her own investigation. Readers can count on a thrilling experience that evokes wild James Bond-type encounters paired with the brainy sleuthing found in Janet Evonovich’s and Mary Higgins Clark’s mystery books.
As the novel heads toward its conclusion, Jack reflects on the loving life she had with her partner and husband. She is driven by her memories of Gabe and by her terror that the police won’t have the technical savvy needed to delve into the world of the dark internet. She doesn’t want to live if the criminals responsible for her husband’s death aren’t found.
Ruth Ware is the prolific author of many best-sellers including “The Woman in Cabin 10,” “One by One,” and “In a Dark, Dark Wood.” Ware’s most recent book, “The It Girl” spent six weeks on the New York Times Best-Sellers List.