Book Review: Srepska by Lucas Sterling
Srepska is a cyber-crime thriller predicated on a frightening possibility; what if a team of well-resourced, competent hackers managed to gain control of the systems governing everyday financial transactions? The story begins with the ‘Srepska’ group’s first large-scale trial, where they cripple the cellphone network in Kenya. Since around 40% of monetary transactions in the country are made using cellphones, the disruption of the system causes immediate chaos.
Moving on from Kenya, we meet the book’s main protagonist, a German intelligence operative named Fredric. Competent and independent, Fredric follows the trail from Hungary to the United States and an audacious attempt to heist billions of dollars by crippling the world’s largest economy.
While I thoroughly enjoyed the book’s premise and Fredric was an interesting main character, there were some areas where the story fell down. There were a few places where I spotted missing words or punctuation errors, and I thought the hacking group was too opaque - while Fredric and the others investigating the case obviously have to uncover the mystery piece by piece, the reader needs a little more of a glimpse behind the curtain at motives and methods. Srepska appeared to be almost super-powered in some of their abilities, and cripplingly ill-prepared in other areas, a conundrum which was never explained. I wasn’t quite able to suspend my cynicism that the global financial giants wouldn’t have taken safeguards and precautions that couldn’t be bypassed so simply, either.
About 90% of the way through the book, I was enjoying it and planning to award four stars, mainly for the intriguing premise. However, the ending of the book was far too rushed, with too many loose ends not yet unravelled which Fredric didn’t seem in the least bit interested in investigating, and for that I’m afraid I have to knock it down to three.