Spooked is about ‘private spies’: companies and individuals providing upmarket investigation services. The book looks at the tactics they use to gather information, ranging from old-fashioned ‘human-sourced’ reporting to sophisticated surveillance and hacking. Clients tend to be corporations and wealthy individuals looking for ‘strategic intelligence’ (that is, exposés) on rivals and competitors. Sources are mostly journalists, businesspeople, law enforcement agents and government officials – anybody with relevant information who can be tapped up. There’s a technical element too. The more scrupulous firms comb social media and obscure databases to get information on targets. The less scrupulous look to hack into their systems.
Spooked is well written and researched, as one would expect from Barry Meier, a former New York Times and Wall Street Journal Pulitzer Prize-nominated investigative reporter. He carefully profiles several prominent individuals in the sector, explaining how they ended up there. Like their sources, some are former spies and law