EXECUTABLE FILE, by Dave Cohen, is a roller coaster ride through the life of Dan File, a skilled hacker and college-dropout-turned-software-developer, who was finally at the top of his game until someone framed him for a double homicide.
The story opens in the middle of the narrative timeline with a prologue detailing the crash that allowed Dan and his fellow prisoners to escape to freedom. It is a scene which is revisited in detail later on in the book, both in dialogue with other characters and in the narrative, itself. After the prologue, EXECUTABLE FILE is broken into two parts. The first and longest part guides the reader through Dan’s college exploits, career opportunities, and subsequent arrest and conviction. Picking up after the bus accident, the second part follows Dan’s attempts to clear his own name as well as that of his fellow inmate and old college roommate, Brax Johnson.
Though there are some sections of EXECUTABLE FILE where the pacing slows down due to technical details or dialogue that doesn’t forward the narrative, these instances are far and few between. Where this book really shines is the character building behind the protagonist. Dan File is a loveable geek, equal parts awkward loner and brilliant goofball. He infuses passages of dialogue with witty banter that make the conversations both more entertaining and realistic. Unfortunately, he does carry some stereotypical views into the first person narrative which may be objectionable to readers from underrepresented communities. However, this is in keeping with Dan’s background and flawed personality.
Another hallmark of this story is its focus on real-world coding and technology. Instead of littering the narrative with cherry-picked jargon, Cohen does a deep dive into the mind of a tech geek, briefly explaining certain concepts along the way as needed. In fact, the afterword section includes a wealth of resources for those who are inclined to pick up some of the skills described in the book. However, none of this ever feels teachy and strikes the perfect balance between informative and entertaining. Overall, this is a suspenseful and satisfying read for anyone who loves tech.
~Ditrie Marie Bowie for IndieReader