In White's first novel, computer viruses crash through the immune systems at a Boston software factory--and a computer-ignorant, Ivy League, dilettante investigator hires on to unearth the programmer who gave them birth. Thanks to a moderate trust fund, Mr. Dred Balcazar of Boston's Beacon Hill is able to support himself as a detective without having to work full-time. He takes assignments from a licensed p.i. as the need arises--an arrangement that gives him lots of time to hang around the Atheneum in the unoccupied afternoon. It is at the Atheneum that he picks up an athletically attractive young thing calling herself Lauren Michaelec--but his first date with Lauren turns goofy when she disappears between appetizer and entree, and the abandoned Dred goes home to a burgled apartment. Why would someone take his computer, a bit of gadgetry he has never mastered? Perhaps there is a connection with his new assignment--which is to discover the saboteur at ADC, where the development of an incredibly complex hunk of software named Miriam has been attacked by foulmouthed viruses. As Dred plows into the detection, Lauren--whose name turns out to be Stevie--drops in and out, teasing and singing the occasional rock ballad since it turns out she is a musician. While Stevie is off in Ohio hiding from a murderer, Dred keeps finding connections between her and the mad but yet-unknown programmer. Plods a bit, and computers turn out to be unsympathetic victims--as does the vanishing girlfriend.