THE TROJAN DOG - Dorothy Johnston
The Sandra Mahoney series is computer crime fiction - with THE TROJAN DOG being the first in the series. EDEN is the latest - which I reviewed recently.
THE TROJAN DOG has Sandra - with a husband working overseas - single handedly raising her young son, and working on a short-term contract in a Government Department, finishing off a report on out-sourced / home based workers. The head of the Department is an old "friend" of her mother's - an unpopular woman, she is soon accused of fraud and facing criminal charges. Sandra isn't convinced that Rae is guilty and she digs around. With help from one of the resident IT staff in the department - Ivan, the Russian "eccentric" and later on a local policeman - Brook - she is more and more convinced that there's fraud going on - but not by Rae.
The early parts of this book are hard to follow and stay with. There's a lot of build up and a lot of wandering around in Sandra's personal life that just go on and on, without the story seeming to move forward with any speed. Once Brook joins the chase then things get a bit more focused and the story actually proceeds. Sandra's an odd sort of a character as well - she's very hard to get a handle on - in some ways quite standoffish and offputting for the reader, it's something that continues into the later books as well - she's just very hard to get onside with, which makes reading these books quite an interesting experience. A lot of the time is spent considering why it's so hard to be on Sandra's side as she fights on the side of the good.
Still, the idea of computer fraud as a crime (rather than the more standard fare of murder and mayhem) is interesting. Set in Canberra this is definitely a book that tells you something about the tensions in working in the public service - at a time of expected changeover of political masters.
I should ask your department's accountant whether he's missing nine hundred thousand bucks. This is the anonymous message that will change Sandra Mahoney's life.
When a powerful but unpopular bureaucrat is accused of theft and computer fraud, Sandra is convinced that the charge is false. But how to track down the culprit when almost anyone could be an enemy?
In her search for the truth, Sandra finds herself in a battle of wits against an elusive and unscrupulous opponent, a battle in which no-one's allegiance can be taken for granted. In the first of a remarkable new series, Dorothy Johnston has produced a compelling story of computer crime, loyalty and betrayal against the backdrop of a city - and a country - on the cusp of political change.