Filed under fiction | Tags: · 2000s, business, hacking, internet, security, technology, web
It is 2001 in New York City, in the lull between the collapse of the dot-com boom and the terrible events of September 11th. Silicon Alley is a ghost town, Web 1.0 is having adolescent angst, Google has yet to IPO, Microsoft is still considered the Evil Empire. There may not be quite as much money around as there was at the height of the tech bubble, but theres no shortage of swindlers looking to grab a piece of whats left.
Maxine Tarnow is running a nice little fraud investigation business on the Upper West Side, chasing down different kinds of small-scale con artists. She used to be legally certified but her license got pulled a while back, which has actually turned out to be a blessing because now she can follow her own code of ethicscarry a Beretta, do business with sleazebags, hack into peoples bank accountswithout having too much guilt about any of it. Otherwise, just your average working momtwo boys in elementary school, an off-and-on situation with her sort of semi-ex-husband Horst, life as normal as it ever gets in the neighborhoodtill Maxine starts looking into the finances of a computer-security firm and its billionaire geek CEO, whereupon things begin rapidly to jam onto the subway and head downtown. She soon finds herself mixed up with a drug runner in an art deco motorboat, a professional nose obsessed with Hitlers aftershave, a neoliberal enforcer with footwear issues, plus elements of the Russian mob and various bloggers, hackers, code monkeys, and entrepreneurs, some of whom begin to show up mysteriously dead. Foul play, of course.
With occasional excursions into the DeepWeb and out to Long Island, Thomas Pynchon, channeling his inner Jewish mother, brings us a historical romance of New York in the early days of the internet, not that distant in calendar time but galactically remote from where weve journeyed to since.
Will perpetrators be revealed, forget about brought to justice? Will Maxine have to take the handgun out of her purse? Will she and Horst get back together? Will Jerry Seinfeld make an unscheduled guest appearance? Will accounts secular and karmic be brought into balance?
Hey. Who wants to know?
Publisher Penguin, 2013
ISBN 0698142683, 9780698142688
Review (Evgeny Morozov, Frankfurter Allgemeine)
Review (Justin St. Clair, Los Angeles Review of Books)
Review (Jonathan Lethem, The New York Times)
Review (Sam Sacks, The Wall Street Journal)
Review (Tim Martin, The Telegraph)
Review (Gary Lippman, The Paris Review)
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