The old saying “If you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life” was seemingly coined for Jacintha “Jack” Cross and Gabe Medway, both of whom are even more enamored with their jobs because they get to work with the person they love most. The married couple runs a London penetration testing firm that does extensive security assessments for a range of well-paying clients. Gabe handles the digital aspects and Jack the physical; as she sneaks around supposedly secure buildings in search of vulnerabilities, her husband is the flirtatious and supportive voice in her earpiece.
Alas, not long into bestselling author Ruth Ware’s action-packed thriller Zero Days, everything comes crashing down: After a late-night job, Jack arrives home to discover Gabe has been murdered. Even worse, she is the prime suspect.
Reeling from shock, contending with horror and confusion and highly skeptical of law enforcement, Jack goes on the run. She puts her prodigious skills and hard-won confidence to use as she attempts to solve the crime and identify the real killer. “Solve the next problem,” she tells herself. “And then the next one after that. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. Until you can’t walk any further.”
Ware humanizes the badass Jack by rendering her vulnerable to injury, self-doubt and exhaustion. There’s London’s vast CCTV system to consider, too, plus the impossibility of knowing who she can trust to help her find shelter, money and information. She’s got her sister, Helena, and Gabe’s oldest friend, Cole, in her corner, but Jack can’t shake her fear and wariness as she moves through the city and plumbs the dark web in search of answers.
In Zero Days, Ware creates escalating tension while immersing readers in Jack’s tumultuous emotions and instinctive decision-making. She layers her story with fascinating details about Jack’s unusual profession while offering an implicit (and clearly well-researched) warning about the vagaries of technology. The book’s focus on the impact of intense grief is balanced by glimmers of hope among the devastation. As Jack reflects, “Gabe’s death had brought me close to the worst of humankind—but there were still good people out there.”