A hardboiled techno-thriller about the trials and tribulations of the dawning information age.
Though set in the not-too-distant future of 2020, Kiser’s thriller—equal parts Crichton, Clancy and King—is spectacularly culturally prescient. Opening in the middle of a dusty blood-and-guts shootout between AK-wielding Iranians and two drastically outnumbered, but not outmanned, Navy SEALs, Kiser sets the tone early—graphic, verbose (and occasionally typographically distracting when utilizing capital letters for emphasis), violent and spiritual. Protagonist, ex-SEAL and chosen one Mitch Double Downing has discovered a way of mentally wiring into the infinity of information throughout the Web or “the grid” as it will be known in the coming years. He calls the method inSyte and with it he can access not just the transactions and rote information that floats about in the informational ether, but he can see into the souls of men throughout that much wider, more complex network called humanity. In short, he’s the perfect operative. Much of the action takes place in Florida as Downing struggles with exposing the threatening corruption of Tampa Bay’s mayor, who also happens to be the father of his love interest. The mayor and his disastrous machinations will obliterate millions of lives and Downing must walk a fine line between romantic loyalty and safeguarding the destiny of mankind. Woven throughout a story with many finely crafted twists, turns and revelations is the charismatic, mysterious, murderous Cheslov Kirill. As a classic merciless political operator, Kirill is unforgettable and chillingly, complexly rendered, especially for a man who uses a school of sharks off the Florida coast for corpse disposal. Final showdowns are a specialty in this genre and Kiser does not disappoint with his narrative’s disturbingly ambiguous final passages. There are a few awkward moments in Kiser’s otherwise powerful prose that some final polishing could easily have resolved, but the exciting mix of speculative fiction, contemporary politics and eschatological obsession amid the parochial setting of Tampa Bay make for a novel with an atmosphere and message all its own.
A bold, brazen thriller with a serious commentary on the future of information.