The Bezzle

Tor. (Martin Hench, Bk. 2). Feb. 2024. 240p. ISBN 9781250865878. $27.99. SF
When readers left cyber detective and forensic accountant Martin Hench at the end of Red Team Blues, he was settling down in a well-deserved retirement. This book finds Marty taking a trip down memory lane to the heyday of the Silicon Valley dot-com boom in the early 2000s, when he exposed a fast-food scam, and relating a fascinating tale of financial skullduggery, long cons, and the delivery of ice-cold revenge. Marty’s reminiscences range from obscure financial machinations to heaping helpings of social commentary but always move the underlying thriller story forward in a backwards heist tale that delivers a righteously satisfying ending to the surprise of both the reader and the villain. This novel, like his previous outing, rides on Marty’s voice. He has a jaundiced view of everything, but he tells it with such style and verve that readers are caught up and ride along on the surface until the shark beneath the water jumps out and bites the villain where it hurts. Doctorow well knows the world he skewers here, having written extensively about tech-sector monopolies, the ethics of the internet, and the state of copyright and creativity in the digital age (including in two recent nonfiction books, The Internet Con: How To Seize the Means of Computation and Chokepoint Capitalism: How Big Tech and Big Content Captured Creative Labor Markets and How We’ll Win Them Back).
VERDICT Readers who love heist and caper stories will fall under Marty’s spell.
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