Review – The Lafayette Campaign – Andrew Updegrove
Available at Amazon in both digital and paper form. Link through the author’s site.
You might remember Andrew Updegrove from the post What is Open Source Pharma. His law firm works in that area, among others. Andrew also has a blog where he’s exploring “the evolving self-publishing labyrinth.” Part of his exploration is experimentation, where he tries various things and reports on the results. To give himself material to experiment with, he writes books. Today’s review is on one of those books.
The Lafayette Campaign is a thriller, the second in a series about Frank Adversego, a tech prodigy who uses his skills to stop nefarious plots. The first book is called The Alexandria Project. From the description of The Lafayette Campaign:
America is rushing headlong into another election year, but something is wrong – the polls don’t match reality. It’s up to cybersecurity super sleuth Frank Adversego to find the Black Hats who are trying to hack the presidential election, and stop them before they do.
Frank Adversego is a grumpy middle-aged man. When we meet him, he’s on the road looking for some isolated wilderness where he can get some writing done. His quest for freedom from people and their annoying demands is frustrated, first by an attractive French woman with a broken bicycle wheel, then by government agents in a helicopter. He wants to tell them to get lost. He’s done being a hero. But they know his weakness. He can never resist the urge to solve an interesting problem. In this case, someone is spoofing poll results, which is threatening to have the wrong person nominated to run for President. And there’s nothing to suggest that they won’t so the same for the election.
Updegrove has written a thriller, but that doesn’t stop him from presenting it with a cheeky sense of humor. His protagonist’s disdain for the antics of politicians and those who report on them is demonstrated with vivid clarity. In fact, Frank is an intellectual with an obvious contempt for fools. Even sports aren’t safe, as shown in his opinion of hockey.
The book is written from the omniscient point of view, so we learn all the characters’ motives first-hand. That can be tricky, but Updegrove manages to pull it off. I found some examples of dialog that felt forced, as if he wedged in too much to be sure he told it all. And I found some of the descriptive passages to be too wordy, as if he was indulging a love affair with words. The book would benefit from some ruthless trimming.
These cavils aside, I can still recommend Andrew Updegrove’s The Lafayette Campaign. As it says in the description:
The Lafayette Campaign provides a satirical take on American politics and our infatuation with technology that will make readers pause and wonder: could this really happen?
All this and some lessons in computer security too.