John Baird Rogers
Gotuit Publishing LLC, November 2018
Here’s a novel for late-night reading. Or, depending on your belief, daytime/sunshine reading. The author has grasped both the marvelous advances and future of technology, big medicine big government and the insidious dark and dangerous aspects of human greed. Human greed, when exposed to opportunities to corrupt and steal, is almost a foregone conclusion, and in the author’s vision, fraught with hosts of bright accomplished people on the dark side as well as standing in the light.
Joe Mayfield, an accountant, happily married, does his job efficiently, and life is good. Then his wife is diagnosed with a cancer, her medical records are altered so her insurance is minimal and Mayfield’s life takes a nosedive. Why was her medical coverage designation altered? Was the national medical database hacked? Why this one woman?
Mayfield sets out to find some answers and that involves some penetration of a huge national database nicknamed YAK. He runs up against a highly intelligent security agent named Louise Napolitani. Her job is to protect the YAK against hackers. The author has set up the novel to follow these two separate but linked protagonists.
The pace of the writing is fast, persistent and occasionally furious. It is a well-written and cleanly resolved story, peopled with interesting characters. Through it all readers will learn in the most positive and comfortable way, a good deal about potential future developments in big data, data processing, government and the unchanging venality of people when confronted with opportunities to steal. I recommend this debut novel without reservation and look forward to the continuing adventures of Joe Mayfield and Weezy Napolitani.
Tell Me Lies
Atria Books, June 2018
A long, conflicting narrative of a young woman who goes away to college, meets and falls for a flawed fellow, and as a result suffers some emotional mountain peaks and deep valleys. Lucy Albright is the woman. Bright, good-looking, energetic, positive of outlook, she has the instincts to recognize and resist the questionable charms of Stephen DeMarco. But she doesn’t.
DeMarco is charming, handsome, confident and a little slimy. The two form a relationship, not a bond, that carries them through college experiences and into adulthood.
The novel is well-written, well-paced, lengthy, sexy and ultimately unsatisfying. Its tension and angst rise through the first half of the story and then levels off so there are fewer and fewer surprises and readers suspect an unsatisfactory and unhappy conclusion looms closer on the horizon.