When Jim Martini goes back to his WV hometown to see why its major employer failed suddenly he finds more than a failed company. He risks his life, finds a lost love, and stumbles into an international conspiracy. A Chinese revolutionary group is using viruses, hacking, malware and cyber-technology to over-throw its own government and attempt to control the US--by shutting down all forms of computers and communications--all at once. Suddenly nothing works—communications are “silenced”. The US is preoccupied fighting global terrorism, so it’s up to Jim, hometown friends and a small team of CIA, FBI, and NSA agents to overcome this devastating threat and stop The Chinese Conspiracy. Set in the lush mountains of West Virginia and half-way around the world in China, The Chinese Conspiracy weaves a chilling tale of cyber-terrorism, current events and a tender love story. Read The Chinese Conspiracy and then call or e-mail someone you love, but do it while everything still works. Testimonials: --“The Chinese Conspiracy has the intrigue of John Grisham, the spice of Mickey Spillane and the technical aspects of Tom Clancy.” —Tom Quinn --"This chilling new novel links the world's increasing dependency on the Internet to vulnerabilities that can be exploited for evil. This launches John Mariotti as a new master of the genre." —Calvin Myer, Co-founder WorldWide Ltd. --“We always prepare to fight the last war but never the next war… this should be the wake-up call to America. Mariotti is blowing the bugle for all of us.” —John Ellingson, CEO, Edentification --"Mariotti has created a fast moving thriller full of vivid characters who hook the readers emotions and find a place in their hearts. The good guys are good; the bad guys are awful; and the women are terrific." —John Grom, CEO, Executive Search
PROLOGUE New York, New York 10:58 AM EDT The businessman rushed out the revolving door of Park Avenue tower, saw his name on the window placard, and jumped into the rear seat of the Lincoln Continental. His first words were, “Go! I need to be at LaGuardia as fast as you can get me there.” The drive pulled abruptly away from the curb, and noting the green light ahead of him, roared off, heading for the Mid-Town tunnel. The black car was still accelerating to make the green light at the next intersection when it was rammed broadside by a Yellow Cab shooting through the intersection from the cross street. The collision drove the limo sideways into a moving car next to it, which in turn rammed a cab and drove it onto the sidewalk. The cab slammed into the Sabrett’s hot dog stand and vendor who was handing a young woman a hot dog. It kept going and knocked the woman into the path of another careening car. A block further south on Park Avenue, the same kind of chaos was evident as cross town traffic collided with Park Avenue traffic scattering cars and pedestrians everywhere. Horns honking, the crunch of metal on metal and the screams of the injured created a cacophony of chaos. All over Manhattan similar scenes were evident, because somehow, all the traffic lights in the bulk of Manhattan had switched to green at one time. Only a few minutes passed before all of the collisions and near collisions stopped as gridlocked traffic came to a halt. The businessman was recovering from a nasty bump on the side of his head, which would have been worse except for the side curtain airbag. The car service driver was untangling himself from the front side airbag, swearing groggily, “What the hell, damn crazy cabbies…” Then he looked around and saw the carnage. He fumbled for his cell phone to call in the accident. The time on the phone said 11:02AM. ************** New York, New York 11:01 AM EDT Wall Street: On the floor of the New York Stock Exchange a near panic was building. Traders looked at each other frantically as they tried to enter trades and communicate with their brokerages. Nothing worked. The buyers and sellers waved their slips of paper but realized that the ticker was dark. So were the monitors that contained the trading information. A tall, graying VP of Merrill-Lynch walked off the floor with a dead cell phone held to his ear. His young assistant followed him, as he said, “Nothing works. What are we going to do now?” “Um, I don’t know sir. This has never happened before. Let’s go up to the office and see if anything works there.” The blaring of horns and the sound of crashes filtered through the insulated windows. Both looked down and saw the jumble of cars, cabs, delivery vans and scattered buses up and down the street. Had New York gone crazy or what? ************** New York, New York, 11:15 AM EDT Lower Manhattan: At the Technical Support Operations Center of Verizon Communications, a panic was fully underway. Management sat huddled over conference tables, trying to decide what to do next, but all talking at once. A technician told his buddies, “The damn stuff won’t respond to anything. The power is on. The connections are fine. But the computers, the microwave, the fiber optic, and the old-fashioned copper circuits are just not working. It is like someone has taken control of all the computers, jammed the microwave and network cables and put us all on a giant ‘HOLD’. We might as well go have coffee—I wonder if the coffee machines are working?” They did, and found that the coffee machines were indeed working fine. So was the bill changer, but not the ATM, because it communicated with the outside world. Finally the group of six Verizon technicians got their coffee and went to a large table. The supervisor started the conversation. “OK, what could have happened?” “Simple. Someone has taken control of all the computers, and has the technology to jam everything else. All we could do was shut down the main control computers for the routers and switches. That stops everything, but we’ll try booting them up again in a few minutes.” “Has anyone tried to call Cisco or HP?” “How? Hell, we can’t call anybody, and it’s too far to walk from New York to California. “How in the hell could they do that, and all at once? “ “I don’t know sir, but they just did.” “Who is ‘they?” “Your guess is as good as mine. Welcome to the wonderful world of cyber-terrorism. Hell, we don’t even know how widespread it is, but nothing works!” ************** Las Vegas, NV around the same time: “What do you mean shut down the Casino? We don’t shut down a damned Casino for anything short of a nuclear attack.” Well, sir,” said the head cashier to the casino manager, “We can keep it open, but none of the funds transfer lines work. Neither do the phones, email or the web. We’re cut off from the outside world, and that might be the first step of a plan to rob the place.” “Damn, that’s right. Is security OK?” “Actually, we don’t know. The people we’ve talked to are still OK, but since the phones won’t work, we have a runner going to all stations to check-in and to alert them.” “What about the show lounges?” “Sir, the drinkers in those lounges would go through a nuclear attack and never miss a drink. The Keno games are down; so are the Sports Book and the cable TV. Even the local radio and TV stations are off the air.” “Everything has just gone silent—nothing works! How can that happen? And who caused it? The words were just out of his mouth when a car came plunging through the front entrance, raining broken glass, and electric fixtures on the scattered gamblers heading in or out. It came to rest against a bank of slot machines, one of which emptied its contents of quarters with a loud clanging noise. “Holy shit,” yelled the bellman. Outside the door there were cars everywhere as traffic on the Strip had also been disrupted by numerous collisions. A glance at the nearby intersection where the trouble started showed that all the traffic lights were green—in both directions. ************** Washington, DC—FBI Headquarters 11:05 AM EDT, on a Monday in mid-September “I tell you nothing works—not email or phones or cell phones—it’s all dead.” John Wallace told his assistant. “Where’s Becky Twain? She was coming over from CIA to meet me here at 10:45.” A minute later, a harried Becky Twain rushed through the door to the FBI Cyber-protection Unit in suburban Washington, DC. “My driver was late and I tried to call you but my cell phone wouldn’t work. It’s one of the secure ones on a special frequency. I tried texting too. Nothing works! The Internet is down. Email is down. I can’t call anyone to find out what else is down. I don’t even hear any planes coming or going at Reagan National. All I hear is car horns honking—those damn things still work. What on earth is going on?” “There’s nothing wrong with the power, so that’s not it. Denial of service attacks usually shut down parts of the Internet, but not all of it. It just gets slow. This time it’s there—but it’s stopped working.” “I just came from NSA. It’s the same there. At 11 AM sharp, everything went silent. Nothing works—no microwave or wired communications, the Internet computers; and none of the broadcast networks. Oh, they work with internal stuff like spreadsheets, word processing, and so forth, just nothing connected with outside contact or communications.” “Let me get this right,” confirmed John Wallace. We can’t communicate with anybody who isn’t here with us—it doesn’t matter if they’re next door, across town or across the country—right? “That seems to be the case,” answered Becky. “How in the hell are we even going to get our arms around this problem? This is a disaster,” said the burly FBI agent. “You got that right,” agreed the petite CIA specialist.
John Mariotti has written nine books and hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics, including technology and business. His background includes senior executive and board positions in international businesses and his career originated in the electronics and telecommunications industry.