Those Who Fight Monsters

The scariest monsters are the ones who hide in plain sight.    Unsuspecting men with a penchant for casual cruelty.   Murder-for-hire, extortion, and lurid sex crimes bought and sold by doughy dweebs, trusted father figures, and secret millionaires operating in the public library stacks.   This book is nonfiction.

Tracers in the Dark: the Global Hunt for the Crime Lords of Cryptocurrency is  a globetrotting technological thriller, from Bangkok to far flung data centers in Scandinavia.

Shortly after cryptocurrency’s birth in 2009, its inability to be traced financially made it a bastion for purchasing unspeakable acts on the darkweb.
Who can find and vanquish these faceless ghouls?  Enter a cast of intrepid heroes seemingly plucked from a technological Homeric tradition.   We have Tigran Gambaryan, the forensic IRS agent born into abject Soviet poverty.  Sarah Meiklejohn is  the computer scientist weaned on cryptographs.  At the age of ten she hunted in Mom’s law office for patterns among cancelled checks.  She beat the NYTimes Crossword daily by 14 and became obsessed with the Rosetta stone and cracking ancient languages.  She’ll do nicely.  And then, of course, Michael Gronager – Cofounder of Chainalysis. The man who turned cryptocurrency from assumed anonymity to a permanent breadcrumb trail back to far-flung dens of villany.  All savant superheroes in their own regard.
Evil was outrageously outmatched.

It’s satisfying to hear how this crew uses their powers…impossible to pity the ones that get caught.