This bundle—composed of the previously published That Girl Started Her Own Country (2012) and its sequel, The Anonymous Girl (2013)—has the pseudonymous Holy Ghost Writer putting a twist on the vengeance of the wrongfully accused that drives Dumas’ original The Count of Monte Cristo, crossing it with elements of Stieg Larsson’s Millennium trilogy and the real-life adventures of hacker groups like Anonymous. In a shady set of circumstances that involves stock-market manipulation, FBI agents Whitehead and Binder coerce a crooked lawyer to help them entrap his client Zaydee, a descendant of the Count of Monte Cristo, Edmond Dantes, and thus heir to the tangled nexus of secret societies established in the previous book. After the agents mockingly book her under the pseudonym “Princess Jane Doe,” Zaydee decides to retain her anonymity throughout her trial and, using her nearly supernatural hacking talent to maintain contact with the world outside the federal detention center, to falsely incriminate the agents who entrapped her. She’s assisted by a colorful range of fellow inmates, including a former Soviet spy, an insurance fraudster and some practitioners of Haitian magic, as well as a besotted security guard whose uncanny resemblance to Zaydee comes in handy for the occasional sortie beyond the prison gates. Meanwhile, Zaydee’s former lover Steve Larson is on the run for an exposé he wrote on the Bilderberg Group, and Remey Sommers, a young man who’s deeply involved in the secret Skull and Bones society and heavily invested in genetic engineering, pines for the enigmatic girl who seduced him over spring break and then turned up on the front page of the Miami Herald as Princess Jane Doe. Believability and logic are in short supply, and to say that most of the plot elements are ripped from the headlines is an understatement—the narrative can feel like an entire day’s worth of CNN crawlers. The cat-and-mouse element of Zaydee’s revenge on the FBI agents goes on much too long, and though Zaydee carries off an audacious intellectual property theft that, in the real world, should indeed land her behind bars, it doesn’t occur until she’s been incarcerated for months. The sketchiness of her original arrest is an ongoing irritation that isn’t even addressed in the interminable court scenes.
A persecution fantasy for conspiracy theorists.