THE FOOL'S RUN by John Camp


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A seriocomic computer-caper novel that's plenty fun to read (until its extended, bleak conclusion)--and a strong follow-up to the author's pseudonymous (as John Sandford) fiction debut, the gripping serial-killer novel Rules of Prey (p. 794). Camp's lively antiheroic narrator, talented Sunday painter and tarot-card reader Kidd, isn't averse to putting his world-class computer skills to shady but lucrative use. So when billionaire industrialist Rudolph Anshisher beckons by way of his sexy right-hand woman, Maggie Kahn, Kidd flies from his Twin Cities base to Chicago to hear the rich man's pitch: destroy rival Whitemark Corp. and its prototype high-tech fighter jet, illegally copied from Anshisher's, and Kidd will be $2 million richer. Sounds good, so Kidd collects a typically caper-ish ""gang"" of misfits for help--bed-mate LuEllen, a professional thief; crusading reporter Dace, now down on his luck; and computer-whiz Bobby, who manifests only as messages on Kidd's computer screen. In a two-pronged attack, the four--later aided by Maggie, who moves into Kidd's bed after LuEllen takes up with Dace--destroy Whitemark: from the inside, by way of a fascinatingly detailed series of modern-carried software-forays, with the Whitemark computer codes stolen during several tense break-ins; and from the outside, by way of a clandestine publicity campaign that nails Whitemark execs for bribery and child porn. But at the moment of victory, Kidd's world turns black, as one member of his team is shockingly killed, and, in a major and surprising twist, he learns villainous troths about Anshisher--and Maggie, who now wants him dead. Some fairly routine revenge-action and a too-pat escape from more trouble close out Kidd's caper. Loses inspiration near the end, but mostly resourceful and entertaining. With two solid thrillers in four months, Camp deserves consideration as thrillerdom's Rookie of the Year.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1989
Publisher: Henry Holt