THE MANUSCRIPT by Michael Stephen Fuchs

THE MANUSCRIPT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A debut novel from British author Fuchs involving guns, blackmail, computers, unfathomable corruption and angry young Taoists, all part of a bloody quest for a mysterious manuscript.

The manuscript in question is a document—probably apocryphal—written by Sir Richard Burton, the 19th-century adventurer, translator, eroticist and Renaissance man. It seems that in a brief sojourn to South America in the 1860s, he just might have come across a remote tribal culture that had answers to all the Major Philosophical and Theological Questions that have troubled humans since ancient times, including Does God exist? and What’s the meaning of life? While evidence suggests that Sir Richard’s wife burned all of his manuscripts after his death, rumors swirl that this one important work escaped the conflagration and has recently been posted on the internet, buried deep—so deep that Google can scarcely reach it (under “The meaning of Life”)—within the newsgroup alt.religion.taoism.angry. The novel focuses on the attempts of numerous individuals to recover the manuscript: Miles Darken, a computer geek with mystical propensities; his former girlfriend Dana, who works for a professor trying to recover the manuscript; Celeste Browning, employed by Global Acumen, a mysterious organization that monitors the movement of sensitive information over the Internet; FreeBSD, computer whiz and drug dealer; and The Cleaner, a sociopathic killer willing to assassinate anyone who gets in his way. It turns out that the Angry Young Taoists do in fact exist, and they live up to their name. Without a proverbial scorecard, it becomes difficult to separate one bloody group from another. The carnage mounts as they increase the intensity of the search. Fuchs seems to operate on the narrative principle of “when in doubt, put in a firefight.” It becomes clear that the manuscript is not important, just the action in trying to acquire it.

Any comparison to a bestseller involving a certain Code is purely coincidental.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2007
ISBN: 978-0-230-00743-7
Page count: 352pp
Publisher: Macmillan UK/Trafalgar
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 15th, 2007