The God’s Eye View by Barry Eisler
OK, just to get it out of the way, this book seriously creeped me out…but mostly in a good way, I THINK. There were several aspects of it that affected me, including the plot, the technology, and at least one of the three main characters. Make that two of them, now that I think about it.
The story takes place primarily in Washington, D.C. where the NSA Director (a semi-creepy guy named Anders) is obsessed with being able to monitor EVERYTHING. To accomplish that, one of his highly skilled technical wizards, Evelyn Gallagher, has worked on developing a secret camera network and facial recognition program known as God’s Eye. Evelyn is a well-drawn character (although somewhat stereotypical as the hyper-vigilant single mom) who lives with her son and has no family or much of a support system. The third main character is a very creepy guy named Manus who, like Evelyn’s young son, is deaf. Anders recruited Manus, saving him from serious trauma, and Manus would do ANYTHING for Anders. And does (creepy).
At the same time that Anders begins to get more and more obsessed with his ability to see everything, Evelyn is working away one day and sees something she maybe shouldn’t have, and asks a few questions. Anders directs Manus to do some special tasks, one of which involves Evelyn (and, by extension, her son).
Can’t say much more without giving things away. As I began reading, I thought “OK, this will likely require some willing suspension of disbelief, but I am willing to go along with whatever happens.” But Eisler, a former CIA guy, really knows his stuff, and the story is frighteningly believable. As a result of Snowden’s revelations and the exposure of various other nefarious activities coming to the public’s attention, it takes more than the idea of a program such as God’s Eye to go beyond believability.
Well paced, seriously taut action scenes, and people who generally seemed real, although the stereotypes (single mother afraid to lose her job, seriously damaged violent guy, bureaucrat who goes off the deep end) resulted in it being four stars rather than five. A good editor would likely have prodded Eisler to smooth out the hyper-sharp edges of the characters, to make their actions more believable. But, great effort, this guy has knowledge that will allow him to explore lots of scary government overreach!
People curious about NSA, spying on citizens, etc. will appreciate (not necessarily enjoy – like I said, the plot and technology kind of creeped me out!)
Thanks to NetGalley for an advance copy in exchange for my honest review. Four stars.