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by Donna Andrews
Prime Crime, May 2003
304 pages
ISBN: 0425188566

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

When Ray Santiago is found murdered in a dark alley, his friends are astounded and vow to find the killer of the brilliant systems engineer, and that includes Turing HopperŠ.technically an Artificial Intelligence Personality.  

Despite the fact she's in fact a mainframe computer, Turing shows every sign of developing a human heart. Unfortunately she shows no signs of developing legs, so Turing must rely on Maude, the power behind the throne of Universal Library, and PI-in-training Tim, to do her legwork.

Santiago, it turns out, was himself a mystery wrapped inside a mystery. For one thing, he was obsessed with an on-line roll-playing game which had the power to fascinate despite a distinct dark side. And when Maude and Tim look into the game, they find evidence that the game extended into real life, played by folks who looked harmless at first sight, but were they?

And they discover that Santiago had manufactured a life and phony identity for himself almost as complex as the program which powers Turing.

While the physical danger is very real for Maude and Tim, the stakes are even higher for Turing, who faces of an assault to capture her immense capabilitiesŠan attack which appears to be coming from within the very computer Turing lives in.

This is the second Turing Hopper mystery by Andrews. Her first, YOU'VE GOT MURDER, was critically acclaimed and won the prestigious 2002 Agatha Award for best mystery.

You don't have to be a computer nerd to enjoy this series, which says a lot about the author, who has invented the need for a new genre term, "techno-cozy."

Reviewed by Gary Svoboda, May 2003

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