Luca Pesaro - Zero Alternative

London, in the near future: Scott 'Yours' Walker is a hard-nosed, successful City trader who, with the aid of his friend and colleague DM, has developed a secret software called DeepShare which is stunningly apt at predicting financial and political developments worldwide. At a time of great economic upheaval, DeepShare is of course invaluable - and Scott suspects that Frankel, a rival bank, is spying on him. His suspicions appear to be confirmed when he finds DM brutally murdered, but his problems are only just beginning: celebrating his windfall in the wake of the Italian election results (predicted by DeepShare), he has fallen into the clutches of Layla, who turns out to be a honey trap.

Soon Scott finds himself on the run, not only from the authorities, who have him down as the main suspect in DM's murder case, but the hitmen who have discovered that the stolen software has self-destructed. As Scott flees to the continent in search of the original copy of DeepShare, he is not only pursued by the killers but must form an uneasy alliance with Layla, still unsure whether he can trust her or not. On their journey through France, Switzerland and on to Sardinia, Scott discovers old loyalties stretched to the limits - and finds himself falling in love with Layla. But is she really who she claims to be? Can he trust his old friends and colleagues? With the killers hot on their heels, and leaving a trail of bodies in their wake, time is running out for Scott if he is to save the world from DeepShare falling into the wrong hands...

On paper, Zero Alternative appears to be yet another conspiracy thriller with action-packed pursuits, daring men and dangerous women set in the world of high finance, but what sets it apart from its peers is its critical, almost satirical stance on capitalism and modern politics: contrary to first impressions, Scott Walker is not the ruthless, money-grabbing post-Yuppie we initially take him for, but has indeed a far more altruistic goal in mind. Yes, the thriller is brimming with blood and gore, car chases, fast women and big money, but refreshingly, it runs far more deeply than that, thus marking a welcome departure from the usual fayre. Luca Pesaro is a talent to watch out for.