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Zero Days


Zero Days

Internationally bestselling author Ruth Ware shows no signs of slowing down as ZERO DAYS is yet another winner. Here, she combines mystery, psychological thrills and even some technothriller elements in a timely novel that never lets up for a moment.

Jacintha “Jack” Cross and her husband, Gabe, have a very unique job. They are hired by companies to break into their buildings and security systems to uncover any potential threats that may exist. They refer to themselves as penetration specialists, and the book opens with Jack on-site during what turns out to be a tricky assignment while Gabe is at home online and connected to her via an earbud.

"...a timely novel that never lets up for a moment.... ZERO DAYS is an infectious read with terrific plotting and a protagonist you cannot stop rooting for until the end."

As Jack is running into some difficulties, she is suddenly unable to reach Gabe. She uses all of her guile to get out of it and finish the job. When she arrives home, she comes upon the still body of her husband. Only after touching him does she realize that his throat has been cut from ear to ear. While she is being interviewed at police headquarters, Jack starts to realize that she is considered the prime suspect.

A stunned Jack makes shaky calls to her sister, Helen, and Gabe’s best friend, Cole. Instead of contacting a solicitor to defend her, she bolts from the police station to seek answers on her own. She is freaked out by an email she receives from an insurance company confirming a million-dollar policy taken out by Gabe and listing Jack as the beneficiary. The problem is that Gabe never did such a thing, and Jack is smart enough to recognize that whoever committed the murder did this to make her look like the guilty party.

ZERO DAYS has been compared to both The Fugitive and Mr. and Mrs. Smith. Seeing everything through the eyes and thoughts of Jack keeps the plot moving at a fast pace but limits the information we have as readers. I found this to be an ingenious move by Ware; it really puts you in the same shoes as Jack, who is frantic with grief and fear of capture. On top of all of this, she has a severe puncture wound in her side from one of her escapes that, if left medically unattended, could lead to a sepsis infection or worse.

Ware is also slow to pull back the curtain on possible suspects as we only learn of two in the early stages of the story. The first is the aforementioned Cole, a tech wizard who is willing to do whatever he can to assist Jack during her flight from justice. The other is a police officer working the case who happens to be Jack’s abusive ex-boyfriend. He would’ve been quite capable of attacking Gabe in a jealous rage and setting up Jack to take the fall.

It is an absolute thrill to watch Jack utilize all of her high-tech breaking-and-entering skills to keep one step ahead of her pursuers while also compiling more information to find the answers she feels the police are not paying attention to as they seem to be focused only on her. The escapes are many, and each is increasingly more dangerous than the prior one. Along the way, Jack meets up with some genuinely decent strangers who do what they can to help her out, which keeps her hopes up. Of course, she figures everything out before the police do, and the ultimate reveal is a wild one.

ZERO DAYS is an infectious read with terrific plotting and a protagonist you cannot stop rooting for until the end. Personally I would love to see Ruth Ware bring back this character in another story. I was hooked on Jack for good once I found out that her and Gabe’s wedding song was my favorite Talking Heads tune, “This Must Be the Place.” You cannot find a cooler fictional couple!

Reviewed by Ray Palen on June 23, 2023

Zero Days
by Ruth Ware