Published by: Marlborough Press
Release Date: June 7, 2016
Can America — Seething With Suspicion and Hate — Defeat an Unholy Alliance of Its Most Fanatical Enemies?
The “Summer of Blood” explodes. The U.S. is under siege from foreign jihadists and domestic terrorists. When a brilliant exploit strikes at the heart of the National Security Agency’s own network, former NSA operative Lana Elkins discovers that it came from within the United States itself. More surprising still is the attacker: “Steel Fist,” a cyber-savvy radical white supremacist whose legions feed on his anti-Islamic exhortations. His popularity only grows when a jihadist team carries out a bold, but baffling, attack on the Louisiana coast, bringing ashore a lethal invader no one can see.
Most mysterious of all are Golden Voice, a hacker of unparalleled skill with a murderous agenda and a secret past, and Tahir Hijazi, a Muslim refugee from Sudan with his own shadowy history. When Tahir’s young nephew starts dating Lana’s daughter Emma, Steel Fist calls upon his fans to embark on a new mission: assassinate the entire Elkins family.
As extremists battle each other—with Lana fighting both ends from the middle—the conflict becomes deeply personal, the stakes tragically high.
In Thomas Waite’s edgiest tale yet, battles savage the American heartland, shaking the very foundations of the world’s mightiest nation.
"Rarely does a novel pull me down and strap me in for the long, beautifully turbulent ride like Unholy Code did. This book stuns with pulse-pounding prose and a plot of terrorism and counter-terrorism that seems plucked not from today's headlines, but from the ones that may very well come tomorrow. A real achievement."
—Vincent Zandri, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of The Remains and When Shadows Come
"Lana Elkins is back and that's great news to Waite's fans (count me in that group). Unholy Code is a wholly riveting thriller with a wickedly clever plot that will sweep you from battles in cyberspace to America's besieged and battered heartland. Waite just keeps getting better."
—Dale Dauten, King Features Syndicated Columnist
"Thomas Waite delivers fast-paced thrills and a stunning protagonist who is as comfortable solving cyber crimes as she is taking out baddies with an automatic rifle. Waite presents a very near future, different from our world by the merest twist, that has become a frightening dystopia, reminding us that life as we know it is all too fragile. He knows his territory and draws it well. This latest in the series will scare the pants off of you."
—Michael Sears, bestselling author of Saving Jason and Long Way Down
“Look at the water, boy.”
Vinko peered at its smooth surface and saw his reflection.
“Your face is white as the clouds, isn’t it? Just like everyone else you see around here.”
Vinko understood. He’d never known anybody who wasn’t white.
They’d fished until sundown. After gathering up their gear, his father told him to look at the water again. The blood-red colors had appeared, darkening the boy’s face.
“You’re no longer white. That’s what’s going to happen if we let the sun set on America. The white will disappear, and we’ll pay for it with blood.”
His father had been right. The men in his family had all known that the most important threat of all wasn’t a gun or a knife, or even the mongrel races raging to get everything that belonged to whites. But it was all about blood.
* * *
A seventeen-year-old is impulsive.
A seventeen-year-old feels immortal.
A seventeen-year-old doesn’t understand that death can come in a whisper.
Emma. I imagine my hot breath on her ear. I can help you.
So her parents will be right to shudder at the fact that Em is now vulnerable to the scores of terrorists stalking American cities and hinterlands, hunting for ever more horrors to visit upon the nation.
But don’t worry about all that.
Those are the exact words I would tell them if I could. They need only worry about me. And it’s too late for that. Their only child is trying to free herself of too much too soon, and all she’s really done is seal her fate.
The one I’ve planned for her.
And you shall share it, Lana.
The chainsaws are oiled and calling. Can you hear them? Here, I’ll start one.
How about that? Can you hear it now? The blade sounds angry, doesn’t it? Like it could cut through skin and bone and the last scraps of hope in a dying girl’s heart. I won’t let you die without seeing that, Lana. I promise.
That’s how a mother gets to die twice.
Before explaining the backstory for Unholy Code, a quick word about the genesis of the entire Lana Elkins thriller series. Years ago my advisory work involved the then nascent subject of cybersecurity, which naturally had me researching and reading a lot about cyberattacks and cyber warfare. What I learned was truly frightening. As a writer of thrillers, it struck me that the public was largely unaware of a potential cyberwar of cataclysmic proportions from an unseen enemy. I saw this as an opportunity to write a rather unique series of thrillers. As for my protagonist, when I conceived of this series I didn’t think the world needed another stereotype macho male figure. So I created my heroine, Lana Elkins, a former NSA operative who now heads a cyber security firm.
As for Unholy Code, I could tell you that I came up with the idea while at a Southern Poverty Law Center symposium. But I’d be lying. The truth is the genesis was a combination of things I was observing – nativism and xenophobia, anti-Muslim propaganda, and incidents of hate crimes – all of which sadly have only increased. At the same time, the ISIS trail of terror was continuing apace, with unthinkable horrors being committed by this jihadist militant group. So I envisioned a future America faced with white supremacists and jihadists, with terrorists both domestic and foreign, and with an unholy alliance of our most fanatical enemies.
Some readers have asked me if I’m making a political statement with this novel. I’m not, though there certainly are a number of issues I’m addressing¬ – most notably the troubling increase in incendiary racist rhetoric and the spread of terrorism both foreign and domestic. Unholy Code, like the others in the series, takes place in the near future in a recognizable world, and a major reason that world feels so real is that the conflicts that threaten to tear us apart as a nation are based on what we can glimpse of the world around us right now.
In fact, I never imagined – and most certainly never wished for – the real world to have so many frightening parallels to my novel. I was well into writing Unholy Code when the Charleston church shooting took place, only to be followed by the attacks in Chattanooga, Colorado Springs, and San Bernardino. Similarly the tone of the 2016 US presidential race and the xenophobic proclamations by some supports of the Brexit movement were things I couldn’t have anticipated. And only a week into the promotion of Unholy Code as a fictional story about the “Summer of Blood” exploding in America, sadly the deadliest public mass shooting in the U.S. to date took place in Orlando. Even though my novel is fiction, it’s still disturbing to see this perverse version of “life imitating art.”
In writing Lethal Code and Trident Code, my first two books in the Lana Elkins series, I examined the potential convergence of computer science with other “traditional” terrorist threats, as well as the harrowing impact cyberwar and cybersabotage could have on deep environmental vulnerabilities caused by climate change. For Unholy Code, I created the cyber-savvy radical white supremacist “Steel Fist” and the mysterious “Golden Voice,” a hacker of unparalleled skill and a secret past.
Throughout I consulted with experts to help ensure that the technology was accurate without overburdening the reader with unnecessary detail and overly technical language. I was once asked if perhaps I was giving too much away, inadvertently aiding potential cyberterrorists. It’s hard for me to believe that most of what I come up with hasn’t already been the subject of cyberwar-game scenarios in the Department of Defense. If I’m presuming too much about the Pentagon, then we’re really in trouble.