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Kill Chain #2

Kill Switch

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Igloo and Angie are the co-founders of a new social network, Tapestry, based on the principles of privacy and data ownership. Two years later, with Tapestry poised to become the world’s largest social network, their rapid growth puts them under government scrutiny.

Tapestry’s privacy and security is so effective that it impedes the government’s ability to monitor routine communications. Fearing Tapestry will spread to encompass the whole of the Internet, threatening America’s surveillance abilities around the globe, the government swoops in to stop Angie and company -- by any means possible.

Under the constant threat of exposure -- of Angie’s criminal past, of Igloo’s secret life in the underground kink scene, and of their actions to subvert a FISA court order -- they must hatch a plan to ensure the success of Tapestry no matter what pressures the government brings to bear.

Not knowing whom to trust, or if they can even trust each other, Igloo and Angie must risk everything in the ultimate battle for control of the Internet.

506 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 20, 2018

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William Hertling

14 books615 followers

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5 stars
118 (35%)
4 stars
126 (37%)
3 stars
62 (18%)
2 stars
15 (4%)
1 star
16 (4%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 31 reviews
Profile Image for Stephan .
32 reviews40 followers
December 1, 2018
4,5 stars
This second installment in the Kill Chain series also worthily carries the name "techno thriller", which belongs to my favorite genres. I've started to take a liking to William Hertling and will read his Singularity series next.

This series is about the internet, ownership of data, social networks, privacy, hacking and operational security (and BDSM!). From my superficial knowledge about hacking I can say that the technical aspect of the book is realistic and uses existing technology, which makes it a book about today, not just a potential tomorrow.

At the start I was doubting if I was going to like this book though, because it was not only telling a techno story, but a BDSM (bondage) story too - not something I would choose by myself for myself. I turned out to like the book at the end, so all is well. The author's note at the end gives the book a greater spin and message, I'd like to quote from it:

Author's Note
"If this book made you feel uncomfortable, if it caused you to judge any of the characters, and if you’re still reading this now, I hope that the exposure will help you be more open-minded in the future, and more accepting of people who seem to be very different from you on the outside. On the inside, we all just want to be loved and accepted."

This made me change my perspective about BDSM being contained in a techno thriller. I was exposed and I believe I might be a bit more open-minded than before (mission accomplished!?). Hertling also shortly speaks about the "Shades of Grey" books because they made BDSM more public. I just want to say that I disliked them, to me they portray Christian Grey, the BDSM protagonist as deeply disturbed. Hertling on the contrary displays them as simply attracted to the matter instead of broken.

Back to this book, some questions I like to ask myself to describe how much I like it:

- Did I enjoy the book? yes
- Was I involved, did the book work for me? yes
- Did it live up to my expectations? yes
- Would I read it again for the first time if I could? yes
- Does it go on my favorites shelf? not quite
- Do I recommend this to a fan of the genre? yes
Profile Image for Fahad Naeem.
210 reviews48 followers
July 6, 2020
I was always a fan of William Hertling and always enjoy reading his books; they stick to their end goal i.e. keeping readers glued to them.

The book was a sequel of Kill process another master piece and somehow better than it. It started with lots of kinks and sexual scenes that I had to stop pacing through it but then eventually it started building and I loved the way William introduced suspense in a Tech-Thriller. I spent 2 complete days reading it and I tried to enjoy so I read it slowly.

I could have given it 5 stars if he didn't put kinks in. That's my point of view though.

There's so much in the book for those who want to learn new ways of coding and/or want inspiration for their coding projects. So I'd strongly recommend programmers/coders to read it if they can't sit ant write code for 1 hours straight.
Profile Image for Jaroslav Urban.
226 reviews4 followers
December 10, 2018
This is really kind of book I read with great pleasure. All the IT jargon, the conflict between personal and state freedom. How the government sees their citizens and the secret services are enforcing the government vision and bend the rules to their needs.
I was bit perplexed with all that BDSM part, but I understand that it takes part o main plot. It made me almost to stop reading the book at the beginning, but glad I continued. The book was after all very enjoyable.
62 reviews3 followers
November 18, 2018
Was initially surprised by the heavy emphasis spent on BDSM and kink, but as the story progressed, this theme was used creatively to add to the story and develop storylines. I ended up looking forward to the next twist in the story.

The technology concepts presented are entirely believable and worth exploring on their own merits.

Another well-done Hertling thriller. I keep buying his books!
Profile Image for Yoly.
551 reviews40 followers
July 28, 2019
The only reason I won’t rate this book 5 stars is because of the BDSM soft porn chapters. It was a weird surprise to find somewhat explicit sexual content in a technothriller. I know why he did it, it is part of the story but what really bothered me was that for a few chapters the book turned into basically an erotica book, which is not a genre I'm into. But that’s my only issue. The story was very entertaining, as in the first book, the author gives us enough background on the main characters for them to feel real. In the first book we got to know Angie, and in this one we get more background on Igloo who was my second favorite character from the first book, after Angie, of course 😊 I would have liked more background story on Igloo, like we got for Angie on the first book, but I can’t say I’m disappointed with the amount of info we did get on this installment.

I don’t know if there will be another book in the series, but I wouldn’t mind reading more about Igloo and Angie. So I’ll keep my fingers crossed for another one.

The thing I like the most about William Hertling’s books is that he’s not shy with the tech jargon, and as a software developer, I really enjoy that. Technical things actually make sense in his books!

There was an incident in this one where a developer’s computer That part had me laughing out loud. This could only have been written by a developer

I listened to the audiobook, and Jane Cramer did a great job as a narrator. I highly recommend this one on audio.
Profile Image for Saphana.
143 reviews2 followers
March 19, 2019
I'm confused and to some degree even a little disappointed.

I read the first installment and was blown away by the themes discussed (namely: advanced technology and ingenious people all exploited by corrupt politicians / end-stage capitalism); the professional engagement and courage of abused women taking their expertise to the next level and actually triggering change.

This sequel starts where the previous left off. However, instead of following the plot and taking it to the end-game, we're getting sidetracked by the psychological difficulties with BDSM and polyarmoury of one of the main characters and it isn't even overly impacting the plot. I mean, the BDSM scenes are extensive in depth and lenght - more's the pity, because Angie's journey to the final decision gets tied up in Japanese knots, drowned in caffeine, tears and violent sex.

And here's what confused me: is this novel about the tech or for BDSM? The extended play scenes do absolutely nothing to further the storyline that concerns Tapestry. I understand where the author's coming from and I read his explanation for the inclusion of BDSM (namely: be tolerant and look on your/others inside before judging, meh) but what has that to do with the company being made compliant with NSA spyware? What's worse, the MC's inner conflict and panic are getting short shrift, told, not shown and that's not what I came here for.

I think, I'll stop this series right here.

EDIT: I just found the author's blog entry where he discusses exactly my points above (for anybody interested, it's here).

begin rant

Dear Mr Hertling,

doing a word count on plot/tech vs. kink isn't exactly an adequate measurement when it comes to reader's reactions. Tac phrased it as: not all words are written equally and, while that's a nice phrase, it doesn't cover a reader's reality. Since the other reviewers didn't give you deeper insights into their reasoning and you're blowing them off by suspecting they're just "internally biased against BDSM", let me give you an e(ye)arful:

You can write about BDSM as long as you want, but please try and keep focus on Angie, the MC of the previous novel, her reasoning, her feelings (at least for the first half of the book) and please try to do it with as much empathy and insight into the persona as you do for Igloo when entering a BDSM negotiation. What you did, is, drop some sentences that describe Angie as more paranoid than usual; a shouting match between her and Igloo where the former wants to take over the government and then you let her commit suicide because she's out of ideas. But now back to kink, chop chop.

You built up Angie as a woman recovering from abuse; you made us like this character despite the fact that she's actually a murderer (law), even if justified (morale) and now you don't care about her anymore; lovingly develop another participant in another marginalized group and finally let genius Angie (!), her of all people (!) just give up, thereby (indirectly) offering suicide as a valid solution.

I know that all IT people, myself included, are big fans of overwhelming interlocutors in arguments by the sheer force that lies in numbers, so when you write that you put 105k words into the tech-plot and only 33,7k into kink/relationship then you've just deluded yourself into thinking that the overwhelming number of words should clearly state, you wrote a tech-thriller. Which you didn't. You focused on BDSM, your choice of words was more considerate, more explanatory and more in character of wanting to convince your audience while the overwhelming number of words was mostly tell and little show. At least for the first 60% of the book. By which percentage you will have lost most of your readers if they're asexual, heteronormative or -as you write it- old white guys (I hightly doubt old coloured guys love reading lesbian sex any more than old white guys, but go off I guess) or Angie-fans or people who absolutely loved the first novel.

Another thing: stating that your other novels had less than 80k words in total; whelp quality <> quantity and all that.

Sincerely yours,
SAP Hana

56 reviews2 followers
December 21, 2018
Initially I was going a little slower reading this book. I've read all of Hertling's other books, and really enjoyed them. The BDSM stuff just wasn't all that interesting to me (it was educational, and I could care less what folks are into, so definitely not a case of being repulsed or whatever). I found reading his note about all this after changed my opinion a bit, and I sort of wish I'd read first. That said, around halfway through, the pace picked up for me, and I read the last half of the book in one evening (whereas I'd been taking multiple reading times to do the first half).

Thus, a little rougher start for me, but in the end I really liked it. I also think this is a chillingly realistic idea/story in general, and people really need to be thinking about the issues raised (on all fronts, certainly the tech and political aspects, but also on acceptance and sexual preference). Even more chilling in this year's political climate.

I don't know if reading the note about the BDSM aspects first would significantly change how I read the story, but it may be something for others to consider. Aside from that, I'd recommend the book.
Profile Image for Miro Adamy.
16 reviews
March 6, 2019
Mixture of great content: the technical part - story of distributed social network that solves issue of censorship and data ownership - unnecessarily mixed together (about 65:35 %) with psychology drama of lesbian pair that is active in BDSM scene, borderline soft-porn.

For me, I could not care less for the later but had to endure it :-(. Good narration.

The technical part and Tapestry story is great, on par with #1. As software developer I would say: this is good Alpha version, but kinda cat-dog - now go back, decide what you wanted to write in the first place and refactor accordingly.
Profile Image for John.
414 reviews8 followers
November 12, 2018
Tech crossed with BDSM

As Kill Process mixed a dozen murders by the heroine with a technical thriller about the Internet, Kill Switch mixes kinky BDSM with a continuation of the same story. It offers you a lot to think about, both from the perspective of individual proclivities and the importance of keeping our data private and safe. I found it to be a great read, and don’t forget to read the end notes.
Profile Image for Sean Randall.
1,898 reviews42 followers
March 26, 2019
I wasn't sure just how I'd feel about the kink and the BDSM stuff, but I actually found it fascinating and interesting, more than repulsive. The tech, of course, is the point of the book, and hertling doesn't disappoint. It's a feel-good, power to the people story, yet with enough grey areas and backdoors that you can't ever forget the power of government surveillance. and I loved the Openssl thing.
Profile Image for Barbara S. Fetty.
56 reviews1 follower
December 3, 2018
Excellent Read

I throughly enjoyed Kill Switch as I have all his books. Always thought provoking and gives glimpses of things that are possible or probable.
72 reviews1 follower
December 29, 2018
Far too much repetitive stuff about people working on relationships, while they're desperately trying to change the world and survive.
Profile Image for Alain Tramblay.
17 reviews
January 27, 2019
I LOVED the technothrill - That part, the intrigues and the plot - simply amazing.

The sex part was too developed and too long. I got it that she needed to be different. I got it that it would become useful in the plot but I ended up skipping over several pages at a time - not an easy task on an eReader.

Would I read his next book - HELL YEAH!
504 reviews2 followers
April 7, 2019
The kinky shit was just that, complete shit. I had to skip entire chapters of the book to back to what actually mattered. No, I'm not against any of the kink, I simply don't want to read about people doing it/beating each other up/etc/etc in a damn book, especially since it really didn't serve any purpose other than to make it longer/increase chapter and page count. The tech was interesting, especially since most of it is possible, if you tried hard enough/cared enough to build it. Overall, very interesting (mostly).
Profile Image for Gregg Kellogg.
306 reviews8 followers
January 3, 2019
This turned into a great techno-thriller, for those that are into the history and details of the Internet, social networking and hacker culture.

The author chooses to introduce the Kink/BDSM and Polyamory communities as a motivation for the main character. While helping to normalize this in such a novel is a laudable goal, I think it gets too bogged down in details in the early part of the book. The main reason to show up is to see how the character's deal with the consequence of actions in Kill Process when things get stepped up to the next level. Kill Process introduced the notion of indy-web style distributed social networking, something which is reflected in current efforts to do something similar in the Solid Community which is gaining more traction thanks to the malfeasance of real-world Facebook and the general way that our lives are sold for profit through social networking.

The T2 team exhibits herculean coding skills, but of course, this is a techno-thriller, so I would expect nothing less. In the early part of the book, I think there's too much of an emphasis on how the underlying technology works, and would rather see something less descriptive, which might help non-technical people with the material, but books like this are enhanced by the great research done by authors to ground the fiction in fact.

The goal of an Internet free of the influence of large commercial interests and where privacy is protected and in the control of the users, not the corporations is something that needs to happen. It's great to see William Hertling take on this mantle through these books and I look forward to more in the future.
Profile Image for Ralph.
493 reviews3 followers
November 1, 2020
3.5 stars - Interesting story, well developed, as are most of William Hertling's work.

Kill Switch is the sequel to Kill Process and continues the story of Angie and Igloo, co-founders of Tapestry, a new social network based on data privacy and ownership. Tapestry's security is so good that the government is seeking an order to force Tapestry to provide a backdoor so the government can monitor in-the-clear traffic going in and out of Tapestry.

Besides violating the very principles that drove the development of Tapestry, there is a threat of exposure of Angie's past criminal activity and Igloo's secret life. Much is at stake for all and the clock is ticking.

As with Kill Process, there are two parallel storylines involving the main characters that form an integral part of the story and provide insights into the character's motivation. In this book, it is what Igloo does after work for recreation.

I wondered why there was such an emphasis on kinks and sex scenes, there seemed to be a lot of pages devoted towards this part of the story. However, ultimately this was used effectively to develop the story, build suspense, and keep the reader guessing who was behind the grab for Tapestry.

Although not quite as compelling as Kill Process, it was a great story.
Profile Image for Tyler.
657 reviews9 followers
December 20, 2018
Kill Switch is the sequel to Kill Process by William Hertling. It continues with the same main characters, hackers Igloo and Angie, who are co-founders of the social network Tapestry. One of the key tenets of Tapestry is keeping all data private, something which the government goes to extreme methods to stop.

It's a fast-paced, well written tech thriller (like the first book), with some interesting commentary on privacy and data ownership.

Another aspect the novels explores deeply is judging people without knowing the facts, and he does this specifically via Igloo being fully into BDSM and kink. It was a bit unexpected (I bought the book before reading the blurb), but it fit into the story well and added something a bit different to your average tech-thriller!

There's also comments from the author at the end, outlining his desire to present BDSM in a novel in an informative, well-written and unbiased way (and improving on the Shades of Grey books), something which I think he did.

Well worth a read, but with a warning on the detailed BDSM acts and imagery, and it's better to read book one first as well. 4.5
Profile Image for Craig Corbin.
16 reviews
October 28, 2020
I enjoyed this book. I didn't mind the BDSM, although it was quite a surprise to have the author focus on it like a kid with a new puppy. What was really off-putting was the Author's note at the end...

"If this book made you feel uncomfortable, if it caused you to judge any of the characters, and if you’re still reading this now, I hope that the exposure will help you be more open-minded in the future, and more accepting of people who seem to be very different from you on the outside. On the inside, we all just want to be loved and accepted."

It seems like this is an attempt to put an altruistic spin on what I feel was actually a personal indulgence into the BDSM topic. There is also an attempt to pre-empt any disagreement with the emotionally loaded statement about open-mindedness. The unspoken message being...if you disagree with my excitement about BDSM, you must be closed-minded...shame on you.

I have no issues with any "alternative" lifestyles. If all parties are consenting, and no one is harmed, its all good. My only issue is as I described above.

I will probably read any future books by William, but I will not buy blindly. I'll read the reviews first.
Profile Image for Abbey.
422 reviews28 followers
August 18, 2019
After much thought, I think I would have advised the author to write two books separately: a kink thriller, and a technothriller. The two themes weren't connected enough to justify the jarring switches between the themes.

The first book in the Kill Chain series, "Kill Process," was innovative, fast-paced, and engrossing. This book has a blistering pace for the Tapestry plot line, followed by a clunking sound as it throws a gear into the alternative story, then back to the blistering pace. I know that people have private lives outside their professions, but...no. It could have been conveyed with more inference rather than being quite so explicit. I'd be embarrassed to recommend this book to my geek friends because of the sex club kink, but the battle for the soul of the Internet is superb and doesn't hold back from lots of geeky goodness.

Overall, I'd recommend it but wouldn't want to look at any colleagues while discussing it. Too embarrassing.
Profile Image for Hazel Bright.
980 reviews26 followers
February 7, 2021
The kink stuff took up like half of the book, and was unnecessary shock sex that could have been limited and still served the plot's purpose. On and on and on about whips and bondage and orgies and blah blah blah. If the plot point had required stories about rescuing puppies, it still would have been annoying to hear about every single detail of every single puppy and every single rescue. Whether it's sex or puppies, you've got to know when to call it quits. The remainder of the book was not so bad, but jeez, the barrage of kinky sex was just too much gratuitous voyeurism. Yuck a-go-go.
Profile Image for Christopher.
14 reviews
December 21, 2018
Engaging on many levels

I read this on soon after finishing book 1 and found it much more gripping both from a technical point of view and from the character development. I've read Hertling's Singulaity series and this is at least at that level.
9 reviews1 follower
January 11, 2019
A refreshing concept in a tumultuous time!

A fast paced techno thriller keeps the reader on the edge of their seat! Excellent character development and a twisting plot. Hard to put down!
3 reviews
May 12, 2019

I don't even know what to say, I loved every page! There are so many important messages included from the importance of privacy to the acceptance of "alternative" lifestyles, and on top of that there's a real page turner of a story. More of this please!
1 review1 follower
January 17, 2019
Love the tech and story. The kink and BDSM was unexpected so watch out if it's not your thing or you senses are easily offended.
18 reviews
June 19, 2019
Your book is bad and you should be ashamed
Profile Image for Renny Barcelos.
Author 11 books123 followers
Shelved as 'dnf_not-for-me_skimmed'
January 29, 2021
I liked book 1 so much but this was boring me to tears so I just DNF
1 review
May 4, 2021
Another amazing book by Hertling

The book is amazing. I can’t wait for him to publish more. Such an amazing author with thrilling plot twists.
Profile Image for Rob.
74 reviews2 followers
May 25, 2021
Couldn't finish the book. I loved the techno thriller aspect of the first book, but I didn't sign up for the direction this book went. I am not interested in "50 Shades of a SysAdmin"
Profile Image for Nick.
83 reviews
April 10, 2022
A Techno-thriller about BDSM not usually two things that go together but surprisingly good
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