One Million Apple UDIDs Found on FBI Laptop – Why?

“Now I know what a ghost is. Unfinished business, that’s what.” — Salman Rushdie, The Satanic Verses

With this strange quote, the Hacker group Operation AntiSec released one million unique identifiers (UDIDs) from Apple iOS devices today. Here’s the full-blown statement the group made on the subject of releasing the list to the public. Further down, there’s also a description of how to obtain the leaked list if you wish to do just that.

One Million Apple UDIDs Found on FBI LaptopThe reason for making public what it found on an FBI laptop back in March is to bring more attention to the fact that the FBI might be using these UDIDs for some kind of tracking project. We’ll never know for sure why the FBI has access to this data, of course. What should be the more pertinent question is how the FBI got its hands on this list, which contains over 12 million device records. These include also usernames, and in some instances, names, cellphone numbers, addresses, and ZIP codes. So, if you’re using an iOS device, it’s understandable if you’re a little concerned. Notwithstanding the strange feeling it elicits, probably nothing malicious will happen to you, yet now other hackers and spammers can access this same data and could misuse it to their advantage.

To find your phone’s UDID:

  • Plug your device into your computer.
  • Launch iTunes and click on your device in the sidebar.
  • Under your device’s name, capacity, and software version, click on the serial number. This will show your device’s UDID instead.

Unfortunately, if you own an Apple device, there’s not much you can do to leverage the situation. You can’t change your UDID the way you could choose a new password. There are sites that let you search the one million list UDIDs to ascertain if yours is included. The safest way to check is to download the 90 MB file from the links provided at Pastebin and check for your UDID with a simple Ctrl+F (Cmd+F on Mac). Also, even if your device isn’t in the list, it could be in the other 11 million.

Mac Rumors notes: “The actual implications of the leak, even if your UDID is found, aren’t entirely clear. The UDIDs themselves are rather harmless in isolation.”

At the end of the day, one question still remains: Why does the FBI have 12 million UDIDs on its laptops, anyway? What or who is it tracking?

Update: In a statement on Tuesday afternoon,The Federal Bureau of Investigation denies any involvement. It claims it was never in possession of the data claimed stolen by AntiSec. Here is what the FBI says: “The FBI is aware of published reports alleging that an FBI laptop was compromised and private data regarding Apple UDIDs was exposed. At this time, there is no evidence indicating that an FBI laptop was compromised or that the FBI either sought or obtained this data.” Furthermore, there’s no comment on the alleged connection to the NCFTA (mentioned in the statement from the hacker group). The National Cyber Forensics and Training Alliance is a non-profit founded in 1997 by FBI agent Dan Larkin as an aid to exchange data and cooperate between private industry and law enforcement agencies.

Further Update: According to new sources that contradict Anonymous’ claims, it was the Blue Toad publishing company — not the FBI — who is responsible for the UDID leak. Next week, maybe someone else will be to blame? Stay tuned!

FBI Busts Thugs in Fake Anti-Virus Scareware Scam

FBI Busts Thugs in Fake Anti-Virus Scareware Scam We are all aware of the recent computer hacking directed towards some of the most sensitive information in our country. The criminals who perpetrated these crimes tried to disguise their actions by doing it anonymously. In this same venue, many of you are aware of scareware, which is generally introduced as a fake message that falsely informs you that your system has an infection. Once your system is infected with scareware, it will cost you between $49.95 and $129 to remove the bug from your system.

This type of hacking has been going on for years and I have been required to remove it from the computers that had been infected, but I wondered at the time why it was so difficult for the authorities to arrest these individuals. Thankfully, the FBI completed a sting operation that has shut down a network of hackers that proved to be worldwide. We also need to offer thanks to European authorities who, working in conjunction with the US, shut down operations in Latvia, France, Sweden, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the Netherlands. The FBI estimates that over 960,000 computers were infected with this fake virus.

The effect of the scareware was to freeze up infected computers while a pop-up would appear that resembled a Windows warning screen. However, in this case, the alert was false and tricked consumers into purchasing a purported fix that consisted of a fake anti-virus software. If a consumer didn’t buy the fake software, the files on the system became inaccessible, adding to their frustration.

So how can you avoid becoming s scareware victim? As a user you should never purchase or install any software that hasn’t been recommended to you by a professional or that you are not familiar with. Additionally, beware of those ‘free scans’ that you may see when surfing the Internet as they could well be bait to access your computer and as always you need to protect your system with a legitimate and up-to-date anti-virus program. Some of the free reputable companies include avast!, AVG, and Avira AntiVir Personal, which are available for consumers who cannot afford to purchase another commercial product.

What Was The Most Popular Internet Scam For 2009?

During last evening news it was stated that Internet scams have made off with about $560 million in stolen funds from people like you and me (which is untrue because people like you and me are not stupid enough to fall for scams like this,  since those who read Lockergnome are a more tech savvy bunch). The most popular scam is the person stating they are from the FBI. There was also another popular scam last year when phone scam callers claimed they were the President of the U.S.

Internet scams increased by about 20% in 2009  according to figures from the FBI and the Internet Crime Complaint Center. The Internet Crime Complaint Center is a private group that works to fight Internet crime and provide information to consumers. In addition the crimes ranged in cost from a low of under $30 to a high of $100,000. A report has been completed with all of the details of  the crimes being reported.

Which makes one wonder. How many crimes are not reported because the victim is embarrassed to have been taken in by the scam artists?

The scams also use the phone in conjunction with a Web site. As an example, in a recorded phone message the victim was told to go to a particular Web site to get their share of stimulus money.

Comments welcome, as always.

The full report is in .pdf format and can be viewed here.

Man Arrested After Making Threats On Twitter

Some idiot, who made threats on Twitter, was arrested by the FBI. The man claimed he would turn a protest into a bloodbath and stated he was willing to be the first to die. Daniel Knight Hayden, 52, was arrested by FBI agent after he was confirmed to be the person behind a Twitter name of CitizenQuasar. The man continued to post tweets stating he wanted a war against the government.

In a news article it states the following information concerning the arrest:

In addition to the threats, many of Hayden’s tweets fixated on another Oklahoma City man whom he erroneously believed was in charge of the city’s tea party demonstration.

“He seemed to know stuff about me, but I don’t know how or why,” says Earl Shaffer. “He called me a few days before that tea party and let me know somehow he got my name as one of the organizers. I don’t have the energy.”

Shaffer told Hayden that he wasn’t a tea party organizer, but Hayden continued to tweet baffling messages about the 58-year-old retiree, posting his phone number in one.

Hayden’s penultimate tweet at 12:49 AM on April 15 returned to the subject of his martyrdom.  “Locked AND loaded for the Oklahoma State Capitol. Let’s see what happens.”

But this one statement makes one believe that this man may be mentally unstable:

Hayden was arraigned on the 16th,  and ordered released to a halfway house pending trial — a move that suggests the magistrate judge does not consider him a genuine threat. Hayden’s attorney declined to comment. California-based Twitter did not respond to an inquiry by Threat Level.

Which does goes to show that no matter which social network you use, we all must take care in those we deal with on the Internet.

Comments welcome.

Source.

FBI Warns About Facebook Virus

The FBI is warning consumers about a Facebook virus that is being spread via email, that is in fact a bug. The warning also states that if you are the victim of such an attack, you can file a complaint with the Internet Crime Complaint Center, linked in their press release. It also states:

 Storm Worm Virus

Be on the lookout for spam e-mails spreading the Storm Worm malicious software (malware) which mention “F.B.I. vs. facebook”. The e-mail directs the recipient to click on a link to view an article about the  FBI and Facebook. Once the user clicks on the link, malware is downloadedto the Internet connected device and causes it to become infected and become part of the Storm Worm botnet. A botnet is a network of compromised machines under the control of a single user. Botnets are typically set up to facilitate criminal activity such as spam e-mail, identity theft, denial of service attacks, and spreading malware to other machines on the Internet.

The Storm Worm virus has capitalized on various holidays and fictitious world events in the last year by sending millions of e-mails advertising an e-card link within the text of the spam e-mail.

Be wary of any e-mail received from an unknown sender. Do not open any unsolicited e-mail and do not click on any links provided.

If you are become a victim, you can file a complaint here:  www.IC3.gov

Comments welcome.

Lawlessness Is Sometimes Justified as seen in Fern Michaels Hide and Seek Due to be Released January 2, 2008

Hide and Seek is an entertaining action adventure by New York best selling author Fern Michaels that is due to be released on January 2, 2008. Fortunately I was able to snag an early copy and found myself caught up in the adventure of a group of women who call themselves the sisterhood.

Having never been fortunate enough to read any other of Ms Michaels works I was delighted to find a comedic element that had me laughing for several pages causing me to overlook her perhaps predictable tale that began on a mountaintop that overlooked the Mediterranean. This beautiful mountaintop was, however, not a vacation resort but the sisterhood’s hideout from US FBI agents who were determined to arrest them for their vigilante tactics which had begun years ago when the members of the Sisterhood met to plan a mission to avenge one of their own. Since then this brave group of women have meted out their own brand of justice on many more villains who thought that they were above the law.

The current tale has them reentering the U.S., in disguise, in an attempt to abort an attempt by the rogue assistant director of the FBI, Mitch Riley, who intends to frame their allies in the U.S. for crimes that they had no part in. Mitch Riley is one of these men who is in love with himself and has no regard for the law or any of the people in his life including his wife and daughter. Part of the tale’s interest is due to his wife’s deep hatred for him and her willingness to join forces with the sisterhood to bring him down.

Like I said earlier the tale is predictable, there is no roller coaster ride of twists and turns but the tale is quite enjoyable and a relaxing change of pace for those of us who like a respite from the traditional murder mystery. Overall, a story filled with the typical cat and mouse drama that we all enjoy and fortunately for us we are glad to see the mice win despite the fact that some of what they do lies outside the auspices of the law.

[tags]Hide and Seek, Fern Michaels, New York bestselling author, action novel, fiction, Sisterhood, FBI, rogue agents, revenge, frame, allies, law, [/tags]

FBI – Bot Roast II Nets More Suspects

In an effort to stem the tide of cyber criminals, the FBI is conducting another investigation which it claims is netting the arrest of suspects throughout the world. In it’s latest investigation, a teenager from New Zealand was nabbed in which the suspect had control of millions of computers worldwide. Known as bots, these sinister devices are able to control computers, steal identity information and wreck havoc on peoples lives.

In their press release the FBI states:

Today, we’re announcing part two of this operation, with more results: 

  • Three new indictments, including two this past month. In one case, we uncovered a denial of service attack on a major university in the Philadelphia area and then knocked out much of the botnet by disrupting its ability to talk to other computers.
  • Two previously charged criminals who pled guilty, including a California man who is a well known member of the botnet underground.
  • The sentencing of three others, including a pair of men who launched a major phishing scheme targeting a Midwest bank that led to millions of dollars in losses.

Our investigations spanned the country, including our field offices in Cincinnati, Detroit, Jacksonville, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Sacramento, and Washington, D.C., which worked closely with a great many partners, including the Secret Service and Immigrations Customs Enforcement.

And these cases spanned the globe, involving information sharing and coordination with international colleagues like the New Zealand police. This week, authorities there conducted a search of the residence of the supposed ringleader of an elite global botnet coding group who goes by the cyber name of “AKILL.”

 It is great to see that the FBI and other law enforcement agencies are working together to stem the tide of these bots and making arrests of those who employ their use.

Full story here.

[tags]fbi, bots, arrests, country, world, new zealand, teenager, investigation, computer,  [/tags]

Could It Be That George H.W. Bush Was Tied To Organized Crime And To Kennedy’s Assassination?

While denying knowledge of his whereabouts on November 22, 1963, the day that President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, a November 29, 1963 lawsuit memo proves that President George H. W. Bush was a member of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and was indeed a recipient of a full briefing on that day.

At the TomFlocco.com Web site you can see an actual photo of an individual circled that appears to prove that the former president was in Dallas on the day of JFK’s assassination and can apparently be verified by the intelligence operatives who took the picture and would testify if subpoenaed, according to U.S. intelligence expert Thomas Heneghan. Given this damning evidence how could anyone forget they were in Dallas on the day the President was shot, especially if they were in the group of officials looking for Lee Harvey Oswald? Additional evidence linking Bush directly to the scene of the crime is available and has been circulating the Internet over the past few days.

Unbelievably, the conspiracy has taken on enough merit to warrant a new probe into the assassination since there is no statute of limitations on the murder of a sitting president. Also according to the above named Web site, the memo written regarding the Bush Sr. briefing was written on the night before Kennedy arrived in Dallas by FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. According to retired Army Brigadier General William Penn Jones the meeting where the briefing was held occurred at the Dallas ranch of Texas oil baron and Dallas Cowboys owner Colin J. “Clint” Murchison, Jr.

Other incidents regarding the cover-up include the October 1992 poisoning death (timing was just before the Bush/Clinton November election) of Frank Sturgis who before his murder was the alleged Kennedy co-conspirator and spotter who attended the above meeting with George H.W. Bush and Richard Nixon. Perhaps it is also not surprising that in September of 1992 alleged Bush crime family money launderer, Leonard Millman, was arrested (in an attempt to silence him), serving an eleven month incarceration, after supposedly making threatening phone calls to his father-in-law only to have all charges dropped after the election. Also to note is that Savings and Loan scandal whistleblower Stewart Webb talked with Frank Sturgis in August 1992 regarding JFK’s murder, confirming similar allegations by Brigadier General Russell Bowen.

While these allegations may be thought of as just another round of trumped up unconfirmable lies meant to discredit the president these same allegations about Bush and Nixon can still be confirmed today by a living witness who worked for Clint Murchison Jr. at the time of the assassination, and incredibly, the witness swears that the meeting took place before the assassination, and also that a second gathering involving alleged conspirators (including the assassins and their spotters) toasted to Kennedy’s death as they watched television reports that night. This unidentified witness according to Stew Webb has also identified a photograph of George Bush Sr.’s White House Counsel C. Boyden Gray as a regular visitor at Murchison’s Dallas ranch during the time period while allegedly working as a conduit between the CIA and the FBI regarding illegal black operations. Both Webb and this witness are available to testify before a grand jury.

Not surprising is that the cover-up did not end here since it is apparently what was the apparent motive, behind Nixon’s ordered Watergate break-in. This break-in was intended to locate and remove incriminating photographs taken during the Kennedy assassination.

In his book The Immaculate Deception — The Bush Crime Family Exposed [1991, America West Publishers, pp. 31-39], retired U.S. Army Brigadier General Russell Bowen refers to the Hoover memo, in which an FBI report verified that on November 22, 1963, a Mr. George H.W. Bush, 5535 Briar, Houston, Texas telephoned the FBI’s Houston office within hours of Kennedy’s death to report that one James Parrott had been talking of killing the President when he came to Houston.

In the same book General Bowen alleges (pages 33-36) that a government effort to misidentify George H. W. Bush as George William Bush in an effort to cover up the future president’s role in the events of November 22, 1963.

General Bowen continues to incriminate the former president by linking him to a “smoking gun” tape transcript the was released on August 5, 1974, in which Bush is tied to a “money laundering operation in which Richard Nixon requested that the FBI and the CIA stop the investigation into the transfer of funds from Texas and Minnesota through Mexico City into the coffers of the Committee to Re-Elect the President and from there into the Watergate building. Within this Smoking gun tape Nixon flags the Texans’, most notably Bush and the Cubans to the Bay of Pigs. While the individual names listed are repeatedly referred to in the Watergate tapes Frank Sturgis reasons that it was the photos of Bush that was at the heart of the Watergate break-in.

In yet another book, The Mafia, CIA and George Bush, Pete Brewton claims that George DeMohrenschildt was a White Russian count with extensive ties to the CIA who lived in Texas. The same DeMohrenschildt had ties to Clint Murchison’s meat-packing business and cattle ranches around Dallas but more importantly Congress later discovered that DeMohrenschildt’s personal address book contained the name and Midland, Texas address of George H.W. Bush providing further evidence of Bush’s complicity in the murder of former President JFK.

General Bowen was an original member of Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during the 1940s with George H. W. Bush, and reportedly told Webb that Kissinger served as a duel agent for Germany and Russia during WWII before later becoming U.S. Secretary of State under President Nixon; and as of today, General Bowen and Stewart Webb are still alive to testify and allege that an individual with mixed allegiances can hold high U.S. office, the public none the wiser.

Given the above information one can’t help but question why Bush denied bieng in the CIA on November 22, 1963? Why did he receive a full briefing on JFK’s assassination on the day after the event? What does he know about Hoover’s meeting in Dallas on the night before the assassination? Who else was at the meeting? What did they discuss? Why did Hoover specifically name Bush in the FBI memo? No one seems to have the answers but it makes this citizen question the integrity of the federal government which appears to be run by powerful members of the mob or secret societies within the United States. Why is it that the same families tend to keep power while many citizens, who are more trustworthy can’t get the funds necessary to get their points to the public? Once again I put in a call to consider Ron Paul as our next president. He is a man who is not owned by the lobbyist or mob connection and who will fight according to his conscience.

[tags]George H.W. Bush, Richard Nixon, John F. Kennedy, assasination, Ron Paul, federal government, presidency, Watergate, mob, money laundering, CIA, FBI, General Bowen, OSS, Stewart Webb, Kissinger, DeMohrenschildt, Clint Murchinson, Hoover memo, C.Boyden Gray, THe Immaculate Deception, The Mafia, CIA, and George Bush[/tags]

DOJ – Terroists Missed On Watch List

Yipes! In a recent released report by the DOJ it is reported that 20 known terrorists failed to make it to border agents or immigration officials. The report states that the FBI was unable to post these bad guys on a watch list because of a computer glitch of some sort. None of the reported suspects made it into the US as a result of the non-reporting.
Fortunately the glitch was detected and subsequently corrected.
However, the Inspector General has given the FBI mixed reviews on how well the FBI has cleaned up their database of known terrorists. The hope was that after 9-11 one single agency was to consolidate and manage some 12 government agencies in keeping up with known terrorists as recommended by the 9-11 Commission. Information on some 700,000 known bad guys are in the system.
One would think that in this technological age that these glitches would of been corrected by now especially in light of 9-11.

When I read this report I was somewhat dismayed. It makes one wonder how many other ‘glitches’ have not been caught.

What do you think?

Comments welcome.Complete report in .pdf located here.

[tags]doj, terroists, database, fbi, glitch, [/tags]

FBI Spyware – Should We Worry?

By now most of us have read the news reports referencing how the FBI was able to track down a person who was sending bomb threats to a school. I think we all agree because of the unfortunate incidents that have occurred at our schools, no threat, no matter how minor can be ignored. I believe we also will all agree that law enforcement should be able to use all available tools to track down the perpetrators. For those who have children in school I know you want them protected no matter what the cost.

So as I read through various news accounts, blogs and some forum postings, I noticed a pattern developing. The perpetrator was being described as a ‘hoaxster’ and a ‘prankster’. Though it turned out that the offender was in fact a 16 year old youth, this was a little more serious than throwing water balloons at cars. Apparently the court felt the same since he was sentenced to 90 days in juvenile detention. But what is disturbing is our attitude. Not about whether the juvenile should of been tried, not about how the FBI caught him, but all of the attention turned to whether our anti-virus and spyware programs would catch the FBI’s software.

There were even some who did entire articles on contacting software vendors asking if they were working with the FBI and if their software was purposely avoiding detecting this spyware. Does anyone really think any vendor would admit to this? The most likely scenario is that who ever the FBI has employed, has developed a program that just may wiggle its way through any defenses so as to not alert the bad guy[s].

Do any of us really believe that there is any operating system or any software that will protect our systems 100% of the time?

What do you think? Have the anti-virus and spyware vendors conspired with the FBI or not?

Comments welcome.

[tags]fbi, spyware, software, anti-virus, spyware, [/tags]

Government Assassins Take Deadly Aim in Iris Johansen's Thriller Dead Aim

Johansen’s latest thriller begins at Arapahoe Dam, the site of a destructive mudslide that has buried an entire town. At the site, we find photojournalist Alex Graham, her friend Sarah Logan, and Sarah’s search and rescue dog, Monty. Alex who specializes in taking pictures of disasters, accidents and terrorist attacks sets off the action when she goes to the other side of the dam in order to get an aerial shot and a different prospective on the catastrophe. While there, Alex unknowingly witnesses an event that leaves her shocked as she overhears a conversation between the conspirators who caused the collapse and then sees them shoot a helicopter that from the sky. Her verbal reaction to the helicopter going up in flames ignites a full-fledged manhunt by the conspirators to silence her while an equally determined group attempts to protect her from the terrorists and herself. During one of these efforts to protect her, Alex’s friend Sarah is wounded. This is unacceptable to Sarah’s adoring husband, John Logan a billionaire with political connections, who will do anything to protect her, including kidnapping Alex to keep her safe. To ensure Alex’s safety, John hires Galen, a government operative, who in turn contacts Judd Morgan, a former military assassin who’s been setup by sinister forces within the CIA and is therefore deep underground. Judd’s interest in protecting Alex is never fully explained but once she convinces him that the dam collapse was a deliberate act, and that more sites are slated to be destroyed the two team up to learn the identities of the conspirators. They are then to learn that the conspirators have deep ties to sinister forces within both the FBI and the CIA, as well as, to an assassin named Runne. As the conspiracy unfolds there are chases and narrow escapes aplenty one that even includes saving the president from violent mayhem.

While a wonderful read, I was slightly disappointed that Ms Johansen didn’t allow us to experience the action when Morgan finally ran the evil Runne to ground. However, given the rest of the story it was only a minor difficulty. One thing that will be somewhat confusing to other readers however, as it was to me, was that considering the vast resources available to Homeland Security, the CIA, the FBI, and a well trained North Korean assassin why was it so difficult to track down one untrained woman.

Overall, I thought that the plot about conspiracy, terrorists and government was fast paced and well done. Johansen also cannily, touches on timely situations, touching off our paranoia about personal rights, power, and freedom. She also keeps the reader involved by never letting her dynamic duo, or the plot, settle into one place too long. The dialogue flows, the action hums, and the pages turn quickly in this thriller that’s a good portrayal of what could happen if someone in the government took their knowledge and chose to use it towards their own ends.

Dead Aim is a fantastic action thriller that brings back beloved characters from other books written by the author. The respective vulnerability of both the hero and the heroine rings true and endears themselves to the readers but what is really exciting is how they travel different roads to take them to the same point. Iris Johansen can indeed write thriller masterpieces and this is a must read for those who enjoy the romantic mystery genre. [tags]Dead Aim, book review, Iris Johansen, mystery, romance, romantic mystery, action, thriller, FBI, assassins, CIA, sabotage, assassination attempt, Search and Rescue, fiction[/tags]

Religious Thriller Buffs, Don't Miss Solomon's Key: The Codis Project by R. Douglas Weber

Dan Brown’s religious conspiracy genre series has resulted in many knock-offs but none of them offer the insight and depth of Weber’s novel, Solomon’s Key. While unbelievable, the reader will find Weber’s novel even meatier than Brown’s as they experience the novel way in which he blends the Vatican, movie star cult icons, spies, and even a steamy love triangle into a complex recipe for a spy thriller. Additionally, the reader will enjoy the way that Weber provides a history lesson that introduces them to the secret rituals used by secret societies to bridge the gap between this world and the next. Weber uses mentor character, Professor Giovanni, to explain the secret of the divine feminine by saying “They believed that sex was the key or bridge to God or the cosmos and that the Old Testament’s Song of Solomon is a path-working guide to the hidden corridor.” Giovanni is then portrayed to explain how Mary Magdalene was the opener of the way — the “sexual initiatrix.” The book’s originality lies in its unflinching examination of religious history in which the true motivating factors of men rest in their willingness to build empires on the ruins of the sacred feminine goddess.

With this as his premise, R. Douglas Weber dives fearlessly into previously uncharted feminine mysteries as he probes the sacred potential of sexuality, of secrets kept hidden from the unworthy and of truths hidden in plain sight. By using CODIS — the FBI’s Combined DNA Index System a link is found between the past and present. Between a royal bloodline and the world’s foremost terrorist. This link is used to bring in the Knights Templar who has vowed revenge over the downfall of their kind at the hands of the papacy.In a subplot, reunited lovers, Italian Secret Service agent Nick Rossi and beautiful Mossad agent, Josie Schulman, battle an al-Qaeda orchestrated wave of terrorist attacks directed against the Vatican and the newly elected Pope. However, the investigation means plunging into Rossi’s own past and into the arms of Basha, the alluring stranger, who may be his downfall. The ancient scroll they seek unlocks the Holy See’s brutally suppressed truth concerning the divine feminine and her role as Gatekeeper and is located beneath the Dome of the Rock, in Solomon’s Temple.

The ultimate deception occurs as world leaders converge on Rome for the Pope’s funeral, while Rossi and Josie race against time following a trail of cryptic symbols hidden within Albert Durer’s German Renaissance engravings. The keys to the mystery itself points to a secret Masonic nexus of power and will reveal the secrets of the Widow’s Son.

While the action-filled intriguing plot of Solomon’s key will hold men’s attention, women are sure to find the main truth, of the Divine Mother, empowering.

I found Solomon’s Key to be far more advanced in the religious and secret society genre than The DaVinci Code and I would recommend it for readers who desire a real in religious history, as well as, an opportunity for a marvelous read.

[tags]Religious thriller, Solomon’s Key the Codis Project, Conspiracy thriller, R. Douglas Weber, FBI, Divine Mother, fiction, historical, Vatican, Rome, Albert Durer, Masonic symbols, Mossad, Italian Secret Service, book review[/tags]

Vanish: A Novel by Tess Gerritsen

Tess Gerritsen’s book Vanish is a powerful tale of exploitation with political implications that unravel in a swift, pulse-pounding fashion guaranteed to keep you turning the pages as she successfully manages to run parallel story lines while incorporating unbelievable twists and turns that bring about a totally unexpected ending. Gerritsen’s fans will also be pleased to note that this book brings back two familiar heroes, Jane Rizzoli, the risk-taking Boston Police Detective (who debuts as a new mother in this novel), and Dr. Maura Isles, A Boston forensic pathologist and medical examiner. Vanish is about how young girls, deceived with false promises of a better life in America, find their hopes dashed at the hands of border coyotes when they experience murder within their ranks for trying to escape and are then sold as a commodity to the highest bidder as sex slaves.

The heart of the story begins when Dr. Isles is startled to find a not so dead woman, in a body bag, at the morgue. After the Jane Doe is whisked off to the Emergency Room, she regains consciousness only to snatch a security guard’s gun, shoot him, and take hostages that include Jane Rizzoli who is in labor awaiting the birth of her daughter. From that point on the story unfolds as Maura Isles and Rizzoli’s F.B.I. agent husband, Gabriel Dean, race to uncover the woman’s identity only to fall into the depths of a scandal that involves people in the upper echelon of society. Broken up throughout the hostage situation are various scenes, told from seventeen-year-old, Mila’s viewpoint ,that begin in the Mexican desert as she is being transported to what she had believed was a better life in America. In the end Iles and Dean with the help of Rizzoli manage to not only discover a massive conspiracy affecting the hostage taker but also expose an international sex slave ring while solving a series of grisly murders stemming from the peccadilloes of a high-level government bureaucrat.

In my opinion, master storyteller Gerritsen has once again delivered another thought provoking suspense thriller that travels beyond its suspense novel trappings and provides the genesis for real-world considerations but I must note that sensitive readers may be disturbed by the real-life images portrayed in the book. In delivering her story Gerritsen manages to incorporate a very subtle morality tale surrounding the real life issues of so-called victimless crimes, and the people who make their fortunes perpetrating them. Overall, this book is a quick and entertaining read by an author who shows no signs of running out of new ideas and I would recommend it anyone who detests injustice.

[tags]book review, Vanish, Tess Gerritsen, Gerritsen, sex slaves, injustice, prostitution, mystery, suspense, murder, FBI[/tags]

Riptide by Catherine Coulter – another negative review

Catherine Coulter’s Riptide is the fifth installment of her FBI series featuring married Agents Savich and Sherlock but despite their presence, the entire book made me wonder why I tried once again to give this previously gifted writer a chance to prove herself.  While better than the last two books I reviewed by this author, I personally tire very quickly of invincible super-villains since I find the thrill in crime fiction is that it touches dangerously, yet safely, close to our lives. That definitely didn’t happen in this scenario as one of the bad guys managed to clobber the heroine on the head, push her away, leap to his feet, pull a cigarette lighter out of his pocket, and set the blanket and sheet on fire before one good guy could fire a gun. 

That said, the essential story revolves around an up-and-coming political speechwriter, Becca Matlock who is terrorized by a stalker (known as the ‘boyfriend’), but who in actuality is a paid assassin attempting to lure her CIA father out of hiding.  As threats continue against her Becca seeks the help of local law enforcement officials who believing that she has been intimate with the Governor actually consider her a suspect when he is shot. While the tension builds, Becca using a disguise and sporting a fake identity manages to escape a national manhunt and her stalker by fleeing to the nondescript little town of Riptide, Maine, where she reunites with her former college classmate, Tyler McBride. Here the plot thickens when it is revealed that Tyler may actually be a serial killer who is bent on murdering his female love interests who dare to question his smothering kind of love.  

Enter Adam Carruthers, a private detective/bodyguard, hired by Becca’s long-supposedly-dead father, (Thomas who just happens to be a CIA operative) to protect her from his Cold War nemesis, Krimakov. To accomplish his mission Adam relies on the combined efforts of FBI agents Savich, Sherlock (from the Maze) and his own partner, Hatch, as well as, the information gathered for him by Thomas and Savich’s MAX computer program. None of these bumbling keystone cops can prevent, however, Becca being kidnapped by the stalker who first drugs her and then psychologically terrorizes her before dumping her in front of police headquarters. 

What probably bothered me most through the whole story, however, was how poorly Coulter developed her characters an example of which occurs when the female protagonist becomes excitable upon seeing a skeleton, but soon after boldly engages in a gunfight with a lunatic. Additionally there are several instances when the dialogue is so stilted and unbelievable that it reads like a first draft that has not been edited. One such example of the work’s repetitiveness of ideas and thoughts occurs when Becca (in chapter five) talks not once but several times about the anticipated storm only to act like it is such a surprise when it actually occurs and the electricity goes out. Coulter does not stop there, however, as in Chapter 6 (on both pages 45 and 48); she has Becca again wondering if she had only come to Maine to be killed in a “wretched storm”. I could continue but my personal opinion is that anyone who thought this book – with it’s convoluted plot(s) and inane, unrealistic dialogue and narrative – a good read has never read a really good book. You can use your Google search engine to locate other books of intrigue and suspense. 

[tags]book review, Riptide, Catherine Coulter, Romance, suspense, mystery, Google, FBI[/tags]