Red Team Blues, the latest novel from my old friend Cory Doctorow, is out today, the first in his new series of near-future techno-thrillers. The protagonist, Martin Hench, is a 67-year-old forensic accountant on the verge of retirement, doing one last big job for an old friend.
Hench spent his career on the red team, in the cybersecurity meaning of the word, identifying vulnerabilities and exploiting weaknesses to track down crooks and cheats hiding and laundering their money. But when the job goes sideways, he’s forced to switch to the blue team, going on the defense and thinking like his attackers to stay alive.
I just finished the advance copy Cory sent me this morning and it’s a wild ride. It reminds me of some of my favorite detective noir, from The Maltese Falcon to Chinatown, but in a near-future setting grounded in real technology.
The plot centers around a critical piece of digital information: the signing keys for the secure enclaves on mobile devices, which are used in the book to verify transactions on a fictional cryptocurrency ledger. This approach to trustless computing is a risky idea for reasons that quickly become clear, and explained well in cryptographer Matthew Green’s book review.
If you’re in the Portland area, Cory and I will be talking about the book at Powell’s at Cedar Hills on Tuesday, May 2. If you’re not in Portland, his book tour kicks off today in San Diego, with dates across the U.S. and Canada. Hope to see you there!