Author: James Raven

Publisher: Global House Publishing


James Raven's most recent thriller is set in Houston, Texas and he manages to combine both elements of a Cybercrime and murder to interesting effect which turns out to be quite a clever and intriguing balancing act.

Malicious features Robyn Tate, who is the lead detective in the ghastly murder of an English teacher, Charlotte Slater who was ferociously bludgeoned to death in a city park.

Slater had also been the victim of a nasty Cybercrime wherein her computer was hacked by someone who had installed a virus called Remote Administration Tool (RAT) which enabled the hacker to become a peeking tom into her secret life. As a result, he was able to discover that Slater was carrying on affairs with several men while her husband, who is a corporate lawyer, was away on business.

The interesting kicker to the story is that Detective Tate is likewise the victim of this same hacker who watched her perform all kinds of self-pleasuring acts while she was watching porno on the Internet. She learns about her dreadful quagmire upon receiving an email and an attached video from the hacker who informs her that her daughter's email account had been compromised in order that he could send her this unsuspecting message. He is aware that she would not have opened the attachment from an unknown person. The hacker beckons Tate to check the video file which he tells her she will find quite fascinating.

Panic stricken, Tate realizes that she is in a very bad mess and furthermore she cannot see any way out of it. Was the hacker just a vile prankster or a well-organized blackmailer? How many more compromising videos did he have of her if he was monitoring her laptop for two months? Tate is also mindful that it would be very difficult to track down this depraved individual who calls himself the Slave Master and brags to his victims that they are his slaves. Apparently, this was not merely a hobby or game for this weirdo but rather a means to extort money from his many scores including Slater and Tate. As we discover, he even goes so far as setting up graphic web pages forcing these poor souls to do his bidding and threatening if they don't pay up, the web sites will go live.

Additional plot goodies include the fact that Tate and Slater were both patients of the same psychoanalyst which brings about some interesting repercussions.

Getting back to the murder, it appears that initially the primary suspect was one of Slater's lovers whom she indulged in sex with in the park just prior to her death and who had also suffered severe blows to his skull landing him in the hospital. Other suspects include the devastated husband, as well as her other lovers.

Complicating matters is that Tate cannot confess to anyone that she is indirectly tied in with the murder victim and thus placing her in an agonizing dilemma. The stakes are high here as this is information that she ought to share with her team, particularly her detective partner, Max Riley. By not divulging these important details, Tate knows that she is breaching every rule in the book.

Our anxiety as readers increases where we realize that escaping from this predicament may prove to be impossible. How will this all pan out? You will have to read the novel.

Raven's fast paced storytelling replete with superb tension and suspense immediately seduces you. His protagonist, Robyn Tate is a memorable character with her dark secret, yet all the more attractive for being flawed. Moreover, she comes across as being quite believable as she desperately manoeuvres to escape her awful quandary that might lead to her ultimate destruction.

As an added bonus, not only is Malicious a slick thriller but a novel that investigates the troubling issue of computer crimes that after its reading will force you to re-examine your own situation. What would you do if you found out that someone was spying on you through your webcam? Beware. It is possible.

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