Ctrl Alt Delete is the first full-length novel from Dave Lewis. A modern day morality story about the dangers of the internet and the various perversions and trappings that it entails, it focuses on a group of apparent strangers who are more interlinked that it would first appear, and appearances are very deceptive with an apparent serial killer on the loose on the streets of Cardiff…
A cyber-thriller and social commentary, Ctrl Alt Delete is very fast-paced, short chapters weave in and out of the major characters lives help to build up the bigger picture. The social commentary certainly isn’t subtle, but a valid concern with privacy settings on a lot of Facebook profiles being looser than a prostitutes knicker elastic, the social evils are aptly highlighted and played out to a logical, if not necessarily, natural conclusion.
My initial thoughts were that the characters were introduced fractionally too quickly creating confusion to me as to who was who. The field of characters thins a little the further the book goes on, and without wishing to spoil the book, I got a bit confused with some of the characters online alter-egos and whether or not they were dummy aliases for the other characters. This said, Lewis crafts some interesting and sympathetic characters, especially the unfortunate Warlock. However, his gruff DCI Mike Hughes, is certainly a dinosaur out of his time, more Gene Hunt than Cracker.
The location works well in the story’s favour. Cardiff has become a very trendy and happening place to be and the fast moving pace of city life is balanced nicely with the remote valley locations in the book. Certainly the remoteness of the valleys makes the scenes set there all the more tense and lonely. The Welsh setting is impressively carved through the book like a skene of rock, unlike some other books where the location could be anywhere, Ctrl Alt Delete genuinely feels Welsh, with even a little bit of local humour thrown in for good measure.
Unfortunately, some of the imparting of information results in the novel feeling at times more like a encyclopedia than anything. The information, mostly, works to contextualise the development that Cardiff and the surrounding areas has had in recent years, but I do wonder whether there was another way oI imparting this information to the reader.
Overall, Ctrl Alt Delete is a tightly woven and well constructed modern thriller. Masterfully paced, It has enough red herrings and diversions to keep you hooked, and despite confusion over the characters, should keep you reading until the end. I would certainly be interested in what else Dave Lewis has up his sleeve in the future.
The Fiction Stroker gives Ctrl Alt Delete three strokes out of five: