Sharper Security: Day Four - Author's Notes

Warning: Thar be Spoilers Ahead!

In these notes, I discuss the content of the book and give additional information about it. These are intended to be read after you've read the book, or at least after you've read each Chapter. Otherwise, you're likely to learn information about what happens in the book that may spoil your enjoyment while reading it for the first time.

You have been warned!

Highway 85

I had vague idea ideas that when Sam went to La Raza Council he'd have to deal with a haboob. It didn't make it into this book because the timing and the plotline just didn't quite fit, but it's too big of a local feature to not show up in one of the next two books, probably at the most inconvenient time. The sand storms frequently hit during Monsoon season and there is one section of Highway 347 between Maricopa and Chandler that is a corridor for them, getting dozens every year.

Phoenix Area sandstorm, called a "Haboob", used in all sorts of local puns

I don't actually know how trucks ended up playing such a large part in this book and in Sam's background. It wasn't something I planned on at all originally, it just sort of happened. I did work for a food service distribution/wholesale and trucking company for a few years around the turn of the century as their IT manager. During that time, I learned a lot about trucking and warehouses, but I still don't know how it squeezed it's way into my writing. I have a couple of recent trucker friends, including one that was disabled a couple of years ago in a trucking accident. Maybe that's how it worked it's way into the story, or maybe it was just a natural progression from privately owned toll-roads to commercial trucking.

For the record, I do like Raoul, no matter how much I inconvenience him. I don't actually like his Tejano music, though it does have a distinctive sound.

Rita Road

The touch screen map Garcia uses is simply a logical extension of current military wargaming / briefing practices, combined with the latest technology in touchscreen tables.

If you plug the latitude and longitudes given in the book into Google maps, you'll get the actual locations of where the Sharper Security Prison will be constructed and where Pedro observes it from.

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Here's some walking directions.

It's not too far through the populated area, but Pedro and his men had to go back up the ridge behind them to get out of observation range, then south-east along to ridge to get to Hidden Valley Road.

Hidden Valley Road

In the Queen's English, A nob is a person of high wealth and/or social position. A plod is a police officer, sometimes a police officer that is a bit slow. Evie might be being a bit sarcastic here, but don't let on to Sam. Of course, in London, the tube is the Underground, which consist of trains running under the ground, while the subway is a pedestrian underpass. In America, the subway is underground trains and the Tube is the Telly, especially the haboob tube. Clear?

Unison is Britain's largest government worker trade union. The Unison riots described in the book haven't happened (yet), but they did put on a rehearsal as a training exercise. I'm sure it must've come in handy this last summer when they had some actual rioting in London.

The Transport police patrol the underground, a special constable is essentially an unpaid volunteer gaining experience and/or just helping out. As a result of her lucking into a terrorist cell early in her career, Evie was part of the High Potential Development Scheme, leading to accelerated promotion. After the incident in Paris, she was pulled out of the field and primarily kept in desk roles.

The idea of arresting the head of another sovereign security company doesn't appeal to Sam. Especially not one he respects and has worked with quite a bit. The last thing he wants are firefights between the companies, underwriters getting involved, etc...

Cowtown Road

Still, Sam's sense of duty and responsibility to his customer leads him to beard (ponytail?) Pierre in his den (bordello?). After making a suitable exit plan, of course.

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Agence de Sécurité plays really large games of backgammon just north of Cowtown Road and the railroad tracks.

With incidents like swatting setting people up, and with how little most police forces know about how the Internet really works (like most people), it's almost inevitable that a police force somewhere is going to eventually mistake someone's infected computer for a terrorist. If the terrorists are doing it deliberately, they may even create a sympathetic terror incident by the counter-terror forces without having to make their own appearance in person. In calm reflection, these kinds of mistakes can be avoided, but if you have an overeager junior officer wanting to prove themselves right and their foreign staff wrong, things can happen at speeds where mistakes are only obvious to those responsible after the fact. Hopefully this isn't actually played out in the real world.

Hidden Valley Road

The driveway and yard Pedro and his men traverse belongs to Sam. It's littered with sensors and if Sam hadn't already picked Pedro's team up, they'd have been spotted and the issue resolved right here. They never really had a fighting chance, which Garcia's expert systems made clear to them earlier, even without any unexpected defenses hidden by Sharper Security.

The moral of the story is, if you're a truck driver, don't pick up hitchhikers. Unless of course, they've spent days in the desert and are wearing shorts, then you should pick them up along I-8. (See Hitchhiking Killer For Hire).

The mines are essentially modified claymores set for command detonation. You really don't want to see what's left after they went off and caught Pedro's men in interlocking fields of fire. Pedro's men probably badly needed to clean themselves up just after realizing what they were facing.

Maria makes another brief appearance while Sam arranges a place for Raoul to stay. Michelle and Maria are larger characters from Hitchhiking Killer For Hire and they'll both play a larger role in future books and short stories in the series.