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Hiding in Sunshine by John Stuart and Caitlin Stuart

The Stuarts are a father-daughter team who have written their first novel together, “Hiding in Sunshine.”

The Stuarts use a very cleaver device of actually being characters in their own book.  John starts out as a high tech security consultant named Gavin Brinkley who moves his family from sunny California to the suburbs of Boston and for awhile everyone leads a very nice life.  The two daughters thrive in great schools.  Gavin’s wife, Lisa, enjoys taking care of their McMansion and participating in the social life of Concord, their new community.  Gavin has a business associate, Cate, who lives in Seattle and wishes the relationship with Gavin would grow to something more significant.  Gavin seems oblivious of anything other than the camaraderie of their friendship and their occasional business trips together.

One evening the Brinkley’s are stopped by the Concord police who inform them that they are in danger and must remain in their home under police surveillance until federal agents contact them.  The agent from the Boston FBI who meets with them instructs the Brinkley’s to prepare for immediate departure into the Witness Protection Program. The family is summarily given new identities and a new home in a remote part of Idaho because of the threat that a middle eastern terrorist cell of cyber hackers will kidnap the Brinkleys in order to use or neutralize Gavin’s extensive computer security knowledge.  The Brinkleys eventually have to move again, the second time without even informing the FBI because of a suspected mole in the organization.  Deep undercover the Brinkley-Robertson-Stuart family settles in to making new friends in each community without revealing much of their past.  The family learns to be extremely careful about internet and snail mail communications with the outside world, and yet Gavin manages to make a living beyond the meager witness protection stipend writing code for a manufacturer and orchestrating a contract for ongoing maintenance of this computer program.

The older daughter, Caitlin, eventually asks to go to a private school and ends up at the very school in Concord they lived next to many years before.  She discovers that some imposters have taken over the Brinkley’s identity and their multi-million dollar bank account and she hatches a plot with her dad to get even and gain their original identity back while outwitting the international terrorist group.

While there are some things about the plot that require a little suspended judgment (for instance, that the impostors could take over the lives of the Brinkleys so completely that they could even fool neighbors and friends for years) this cyber-terror thriller is action-packed and fun to read.  The plot is very intriguing and not so far-fetched that similar attacks could happen on the banking system, Wall Street trading, the power grid and other critical elements of 21st century life that would be extremely disruptive and financially catastrophic to millions of people.  The book is a great reminder of how interconnected and plugged in we are not just as a society, but as a world.  The more connected we become, the easier cyber terrorists can take down these networks, and the more devastating such an attack becomes.

Hiding in Sunshine” is a wonderful first novel! Food for thought for everyone who is plugged into life’s modern conveniences.

The book was published October 30, 2012 and was reviewed from a supplied copy.

Liz Nichols

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