A wonderful effort by husband-and-wife team Wim Coleman and Pat Perrin (The Jamais Vu Papers, 1991) that reads like Alice in Wonderland in virtual-reality hell. ``Alice'' is Marianne Hedison, interior designer of corporate spaces and homes for the very rich. She's the first person to connect a real murder to an animated murder that took place in the ``snuff room'' on Insomnimania, a late-night virtual-reality computer network. Hedison shares her insight with LAPD veteran Nolan Grobowski, the first of many colorful characters. Grobowski is happily working class, he sweats, he's hairy, and he spreads two inches of horseradish over his morning omelette to clear his sinuses of the stench of a corpse. Almost as vivid as Grobowski are his partner Clayton, a young black detective with an uncanny sixth sense; Gusfield, the mad hatter of a psychiatrist who drinks marijuana tea; and a tweedledum-and-tweedledee pair of computer hackers who run Insomnimania and keep computer viruses as pets. After her best friend is murdered, Marianne is dangerously drawn into the search for the killer. She falls deeper and deeper into the soul-enslaving land of Insomnimania even as she and Grobowski fall in love. Will Marianne find and defeat the murderer? Will Grobowski's love be strong enough to pull her back from the virtual-reality brink? This book is a real page-turner, marred only occasionally by a false note (the conversations between Grobowski and his partner are forced) and a few patches of overwriting. These faults are abundantly made up for by the cast, their reflections on the postmodern world and on the roles computers play in our lives. But the greatest attraction is the twisting and cavernous world of Insomnimania, playground of the Id.
Read full book review >