The Cloud

The Cloud

by Matt Richtel

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback - Reprint)

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The Cloud is an exhilarating, cutting-edge thriller from Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times technology and science reporter Matt Richtel.

When the next generation of technology seeps into the brains of the next generation of people, former medical student turned journalist Nat Idle must investigate and stop the invasion.

In the tradition of Lisa Gardner, Steve Berry, and Joseph Finder, Richtel has delivered a whip-smart page-turner that melds cutting-edge science with a technological mystery and a shocking finale. A deftly told tale, the scariest part of The Cloud is how close to reality it could be.

The Cloud, the second in the Nat Idle series, includes a bonus short story, "Floodgate."

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780061999703
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 01/29/2013
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 432
Sales rank: 322,186
Product dimensions: 4.20(w) x 7.40(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Matt Richtel is a Pulitzer Prize–winning New York Times reporter and bestselling nonfiction and mystery author. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Meredith, a neurologist, and their two children. In his spare time, he plays tennis and piano and writes (not very good) songs. Visit him online at

Read an Excerpt

The Cloud

By Matt Richtel

HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright © 2013 Mat Richtel
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-06-225668-3



Present Day

I stare into the dark tunnel and find myself imagining how it would look to Isaac.

To an eight-month-old, the shadowed subway opening wouldn't seem ominous. It would be a grand curiosity. Shards of reflected light frame its entrance like shiny pieces of broken glass. Would Isaac try to touch them? Would he finger a droplet of misty water rolling down the jagged wall and put it on his tongue?

The cavern wouldn't frighten my son. It would excite him with possibility and mystery.

A horn blares and I flinch. The night's last express approaches. I'm without company on the below-ground platform but I am joined by a wicked aroma. It's coming from a green, paint-chipped metal trash can that, from the scent, must contain a day's worth of half-eaten fruit and the carcass of an extremely dead sandwich. The trash can sits along the wall, beneath a dimly lit poster advertising a service that promises to turn your mobile phone into a day-trading terminal. More garbage. "Buy Low, Sell High, Commute Profitably."

Isaac would love little more than exploring the contours of the iPhone with his mouth.

I turn back to the track and squint across the platform. I'm looking for the woman with the tri-athlete's calves. I saw her upstairs at the turnstile, a brunette with darkly tinted skin wearing a skirt and a look of compassion. I watched her put some money in a cup at the feet of a figure sitting in the shadows upstairs, and she turned away with a kindly, worried look.

How come all the beautiful women who look like they were born to heal the damaged are going a different direction than me on the train?

Would she be a great mom?

Would she be impressed that tomorrow I become this year's recipient of a national magazine award for investigative reporting? Would she help me feel impressed? A rumbling roars from the tunnel. It's not yet my train, the K, but the nearing Express, expressing. Over the din, I hear rustling from behind me; something heavy hits the pavement. A boot step, then another. I turn to see a mountainous man in a leather jacket materialize from the darkness, stumbling toward me. He's the picture of a San Francisco drunk, downtrodden but wearing a fashionable coat with collar upturned, curly beard, and dark shades.

I'm tempted to ask him if he's okay as the train whooshes out of the tunnel into the station.

The drunkard lunges, or trips. He careens toward me, leading with his arms as if pushing through a revolving door.

The train's warning horn explodes.

Powerful palms crash against my chest, fingers claw my sweatshirt. I stumble backward toward the track. I flail to cling to his beefy forearms.

I feel the train pass behind me, airbrushing my scalp. Isaac. My son. Will I see him again?

One last tactic.

I yank the drunk on top of me. Our momentum abruptly changes. We fall straight down to the pavement. My backpack slams into the ground. My spine unfolds. Crack. I see an instant of light, then one of black, then a hazy return to the moment. I smell something like burning tires. Then cologne. I feel intense pressure on my chest.

The mountain man lies on top of me. I think: The base of my skull hit the edge of the concrete platform, but after the train passed. I'm alive.

I frantically push and kick the man from atop me. I claw the cement, then roll, panting in downward dog. I run a triage check. Limbs moving, no obvious fractures. I feel sticky warmth at the back of my skull, a cut but not deep, and shy of the heavy capillary bed on top of my head that would bleed profusely and require stitches. I attended med school a decade ago, before quitting to become a journalist, but I'm still fluent in the anatomy of survival.

I look up to see the drunk. He's ambling awkwardly. He holds his arms close to his chest. He disappears into a darkened stairwell. From his pocket, something falls, a piece of paper, onto the damp cement.

"Don't move. You might be hurt." The voice comes from my right.

It's the brunette, the one from the turnstile.

I blink hard. She's blurry.

"Breathe." She kneels and extends an arm and puts fingers on my shoulder.

Her touch brings attention to the acute pain near my deltoid. The strap of my ratty black backpack must've given me a nifty friction burn. But it also probably spared me a rougher fall. The pack, which follows me everywhere, contains an overflow of magazines and notes, the flora and fauna from which journalism sprouts and, tonight, a serendipitous pillow. Lucky I left my laptop home today, for its sake and mine.

I exhale.

I picture the man coming at me, falling but somehow purposeful, his face camouflaged.

"Say something," the brunette encourages. "Did you know that guy?"



I don't express my thought: the drunk's skin was pulled tight against his forehead and around his eyes. Scleroderma means "tight skin." Its presence can indicate a rare disease of the organs, very rare, so these days it is much more likely to indicate a visit to the dermatologist; drunk recently had an injection of Botox that tightened his wrinkles. Rich drunk.

My scrutiny is a sign of my own condition: excessive medical analysis. Some people focus on faces, or names. I remember pathologies. My not-very-exciting sixth sense is seeing illnesses and physical conditions, a vestige of med school. Jaundice, clinical water retention, lazy eye, gout, misaligned spine, all the herpes variants, emphysema cough, flat-footedness. The obsessive medical labeler can identify the flat-footer even when the condition hustles by, wearing shoes. Even though I'd abdicated a career in medicine for one in medical journalism - after realizing I lacked the intensity and rigidity to be a good doctor - can't shake associating humans with their conditions. "It doesn't feel right." I look in the direction the man stumbled away.

"What? Your head?"

"That too."

I stand, feeling her fingers fall away. I wobble, get my footing, walk unsteadily to the piece of paper that fell from the man's leather jacket. I pick it up.

It is lined and legal sized, creased and smudged with black grease. I unfold it and discover two names written in blue pen. One name is Sandy Vello. Doesn't sound familiar. The other name does.

"What is it?" The brunette puts a hand on my arm. I point to my name on the piece of paper. She shakes her head, uncertain what I'm talking about.

"This is my name?"


"Nathaniel Idle."

"I'm Faith." She's still not getting it: My name was on a piece of paper that fell from the pocket of a man who nearly turned me into a subway smoothie.

"That wasn't an accident." I clutch the piece of paper in both hands.

"Do you think you need an ambulance? I suspect you're in shock."

I look at Faith. She's biting the edge of her bottom lip with perfect teeth, her head tilted, concerned, empathic. Early thirties, jet-black hair, arched eyebrows, soft features, irresistible grace of the genus Beautiful Person. My eyes lock on her for a millisecond more than is appropriate. I am struck by an urge to make her laugh. But it's overwhelmed by a more powerful compulsion.

I look at the stairs where the man disappeared. I sprint after him.

Excerpted from The Cloud by Matt Richtel. Copyright © 2013 by Mat Richtel. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

Lisa Gardner

“A pulse-pounding, down-the-rabbit-hole-tale where everyone has a secret, information comes at a deadly price, and danger is always closer than you think. Be prepared to stay up very late; this book is worth it!”

Joseph Finder

THE CLOUD is a non-stop, paranoid thriller whose terrors are all too believable. Richtel spins today’s cutting-edge technology into a story that will keep you guessing to the last page—and render you speechless when its final secret is revealed.

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The Cloud 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 67 reviews.
RobertDowns More than 1 year ago
If you stop to really think about it, it’s amazing how books find readers, since the ocean is filled with more than 200,000 books produced each year, and this ocean is constantly expanding, a black hole of pages and kilobytes produced for what the author hopes is mass consumption. While it’s not a grand tale, I discovered THE CLOUD through an online ad that I caught out of the corner of my eye, the cover being my first introduction to this fine tale, sampled the first several paragraphs, and then noticed a smattering of reviews. All of this piqued my curiosity, led to an impulse purchase on my Kindle, and now this review. Why do I tell you this? Because it happens on occasion to me (I’ve never met a book that I wasn’t willing to give a chance, and I have no problem stepping out from the pack), but it’s rare when that connection works just perfectly, like the universe dropped a book into the market just for me. This was one of those books, and yet as certain as I am of this, it’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly why. I can be a bit of a sucker for first person novels. I love the immediacy and stepping right into the shoes of the main character and walking around for miles and miles until we reach some sort of destination. This novel afforded me this wonderful opportunity, and I have to admit I became rather fond of Nat Idle, even if he suffered post-traumatic stress disorder and stumbled around like a drunken sailor for much of this tale, forcing me to sometimes question my own equilibrium and state of sobriety, despite tea being my strongest drink as of late. This novel bends genres, defies conventions, marches to the beat of its own drummer, or feel free to insert your favorite descriptive phrase. It could easily be classified as a mystery, although the mysterious deaths aren’t really the primary focus for Nat, or it could just as easily be classified as a thriller, although it’s not written from multiple points of view, and there’s no real ticking clock. But THE CLOUD is a novel I didn’t want to end, it’s a novel I couldn’t put down, and it’s a novel where the voice carried me home, cheering me on every step of the way. Character growth isn’t normally a focus of thrillers, and yet I felt Nat grow as a character, as a person, and as a man, and his relationship with Faith added heart to a novel that might have otherwise been a bit lacking, since this tale ends up being driven by technology and the chase to discover the truth. It’s a chase that kept me flipping pages, as fast as my brain could carry me, as I savored every moment of this thrilling read. Matt Richtel isn’t a new author, but he’s new to me, and I look forward to checking out more of his tales. If you’re smart, you might want to do the same as well. Robert Downs Author of Falling Immortality: Casey Holden, Private Investigator
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
B&N why do you continue to allow these obviously young children to hijack this review site with their silly roll playing games. Most of us want to read people's opinions on the book in question.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Alice DiNizo for Readers' Favorite Nate Idle left medical school to become a journalist for neuroscience. He has done well in his field, becoming a go-to journalist after writing a series of articles about a capitalist with ties to the military who is developing how to store secrets inside the fallow part of the human brain. Nate does discover that a local San Francisco company called PRISM is working with a local home for troubled teens, helping them to multitask with their brains and to adapt to the onslaught of computer information. While waiting in a San Francisco subway, Nate is attacked by a man who leaves behind a piece of paper with his name and that of a PRISM worker named Sandy Vello who works with these troubled teens and who may have been hit by a car and killed. A woman named Faith helps Nate after his subway accident as does his office mate Samantha Leary and her husband, Dennis, who enjoys meeting Nate after hours in the Pastime Bar. Nate's subway accident leaves him with a form of second sight. Can he deal with what PRISM is developing? Can Nate also deal with the reality of his estranged wife Polly and their young son Isaac? "The Cloud" by Matt Richtel is a well-written thriller that looks into what technology might do to people's lives and behaviors. Main character Nate Idle and his friends Samantha and Dennis Leary are anchors in this story filled with characters who may or may not be "good guys". That a company is developing a technology that purports to expand unused areas of the brain is a scary theme and one well-developed by the author. The subplot of Nate and his private life is well-integrated into the major storyline and thriller readers who can deal with "what ifs" will immediately put "The Cloud" on their must-read list.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Rambling story. Hard to follow. Annoying medical informatiom at every turn. No reason for to read if you don't enjoy difficult to read novels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Tedious could not finish
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Unusual plot in a good way.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gtg bbt
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
What's going on. { postpostpostpost }
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Kk. Meet you there.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Nods. ((They are dressed just they hurt.)) "Hi stormwind."
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I will take care of it!!! This upsets me. They think they can just come in and do whatever they want!!! I have contact the rppd and am in the process of alerting my allies. This is why u have allies.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Foxkit is new to this clan, and would like to socialize with other kits. If you would like to hangout with other kits that go to playdate first result.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
3 rouges attack and kill hacany
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Halcyonflame amiled and nodded. "Thank you!" <p> Oceanpaw purred.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
[Gtg for a bit. Though, ya'll should check out my new story at 'cclh' result one. Bye.]
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Can i be medicine cat
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A lithe rusty brown shecat walked in, Her eyes perked alertly. "Hello, i would like to join." Her emerald eyes glistened emotionlessly, and her tail swayed.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
*He sat quietly.*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hello Thunderstar we need a med cat I think Stormwind should be deputy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I kept reading this booking, thinking here comes the good stuff, but it never came... This book just jumped from topic to topic, while leaving the reader confused as to where this journey is going. None of the characters were developed well, and the plot did not lead into the ending at all. The first 280 pages were just meaningless filler, that almost had nothing to do with the book as a whole.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book started off ok, but then quickly went downhill. Most of the time I was wondering what the relavancy was...low and behold there was none. I love conspiracy books, this one certainly did not fit the bill. Dont bother as you will be fast forwarding and then still scratching your head asking why you are still reading.