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FLASHMOB
by Christopher Farnsworth
William Morrow, June 2017
368 pages
$26.99
ISBN: 0062568493


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

John Smith is attending a wedding. The bride is the daughter of a former client; John saved her from kidnappers. No good deed goes unpunished. The wedding is crashed by three armed gunmen who shoot up the ceremony and the bride. Further investigation turns up an unlikely motive: the bride was on the top of a secret Internet website called Downvote, a site for dark net wackos who don't like someone or something. Apparently there are several other deaths linked to this site. John is asked by his former client to find out who is behind the wedding shoot-up, and others from John's past want him to lead them to the man behind Downvote. A new client also wants that information because he (another Internet wizard) believes he inadvertently help set up Downvote. The local police force wants John totally out of any investigating.

Much of the plot revolves around an algorithm used by sites (like many current social media sites) to determine what appears on one's screen. These algorithms reinforce the preferences, likes and dislikes, of the user. Aaric Stack (the new client) is a computer genius, currently living on his yacht offshore to avoid arrest in this country, who helped design/create the Downvote algorithm. His goal was to make the world a better place by facilitating positive thoughts and emotions. The person who worked with him (Godwin) took the completed project and flipped it. Aaric wants John to find Godwin. And the word Godwin is really all he knows. Aaric is pretty sure it's not a real name and he doesn't know if Godwin is male or female. Has no idea where Godwin actually IS - and isn't 100% sure where the data is stored. And Aaric insists that John be accompanied on this search by Sara Fitch, his personal bodyguard. It's complicated.

Farnsworth has a definite knack for taking something relatively esoteric, combining it with something just a little the other side of ordinary, and winding up with something totally possible and incredibly readable. Not to mention a little violent now and again. John and Sara go around the world to track down Godwin. In the process they learn a lot about each other, not all of which they like or appreciate, and still manage to work together and get the job done. Farnsworth may not write what many would consider a character driven novel but his characters are memorable as well as believable.

This is the second John Smith novel. Farnsworth can keep on writing about this guy for a long time. If they are all as good as FLASHMOB, readers will not be disappointed.

§ I have been reading and reviewing mystery fiction for over a quarter of a century and read broadly within just about all genres and sub-genres. I have been a preliminary judge for the Malice Domestic/St. Martin’s Press Best First Traditional Mystery Novel Contest for at least 25 years. I live in Northern lower Michigan with my spousal unit, one large cat, and 2 fairly small dogs. My Sherlockian (BSI) nom-de-plume is VR; my license plate is BSI VR

Reviewed by PJ Coldren, April 2017

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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