THE DEVIL’S CODE by John Sandford


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Sandford reaches back to the dim past before his fabulously popular Lucas Davenport thrillers (Easy Prey, p. 327, etc.) to resurrect his even pulpier hero, artist/hacker/design-thief Kidd (The Empress File, 1992, not reviewed), for this tale of computer skullduggery on an epic scale.

When her brother Jack Morrison is shot dead, allegedly while breaking into a sensitive area at the Dallas firm of AmMath, Lane Ward follows his posthumous directive to “get in touch with Kidd.” It’s good advice, since Kidd immediately sets Lane’s mind at rest about her brother’s ethics by insisting that Jack would never have been carrying a gun on such a routine errand. Instead, he wonders what AmMath, encryption specialists who’ve been working on a code for a new generation of computer chips that will allow Uncle Sam to read everybody’s mail, might have had on Jack that made them want to set him up. The answer follows shortly with the news that a conspiracy of hackers calling themselves Firewall has brought the IRS to its knees by flooding it with bogus electronic returns. The only problem with the report is that Kidd, a member of Firewall, doesn’t know anything about this latest act of civil disobedience. Neither do any of the other Firewallers he gets in touch with. Realizing that AmMath CEO St. John Corbeil is setting up Firewall just as he set up Jack, Kidd and his friend LuEllen, whose specialty is stealing the portable property that’s too bulky for Kidd, go into full action mode with half a dozen brainy, well-armed specialist allies. The fur flies furiously, though the plot, fueled by endless, mindless action scenes punctuated by macho posturing from characters of every gender, soon sags into monotony.

Tailor-made for the potentially huge X-Men audience that can’t be bothered scanning all those comic-book pictures or hiking out to the bijou.

Pub Date: Oct. 2nd, 2000
ISBN: 0-399-14650-4
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 2000

Kirkus Interview
John Sandford
author of SATURN RUN
October 6, 2015

Saturn Run, John Sandford’s new novel, is quite a departure for the bestselling thriller writer, who sets aside his Lucas Davenport crime franchise (Gathering Prey, 2015, etc.) and partners with photographer and sci-fi buff Ctein to leave Earth’s gravitational field for the rings of Saturn. The year is 2066. A Caltech intern inadvertently notices an anomaly from a space telescope—something is approaching Saturn, and decelerating. Space objects don’t decelerate; spaceships do. A flurry of top-level government meetings produces the inescapable conclusion: whatever built that ship is at least 100 years ahead in hard and soft technology, and whoever can get their hands on it exclusively and bring it back will have an advantage so large, no other nation can compete. A conclusion the Chinese definitely agree with when they find out. The race is on. “James Bond meets Tom Swift, with the last word reserved not for extraterrestrial encounters but for international piracy, state secrets, and a spot of satisfyingly underhanded political pressure,” our reviewer writes. View video >


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