THE FOURTH AMENDMENT by SM Smith

THE FOURTH AMENDMENT

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Smith offers a modern globe-trotting adventure full of wisecracking evildoers.

When terrorists bomb Yankee Stadium, Kris Storm and her colleagues at Illuminate, a Google-esque tech conglomerate, team up with the FBI to help trace the attack. Using their considerable hacking skills, they link the terrorists to New York City’s Russian mob, which has a hand in a large number of criminal enterprises—including identity theft. True to the book’s title, which refers to the constitutional protection against unreasonable search and seizure, the plot delves deep into the complexities of the privacy debate. Could the terrorist bombing have been prevented, for example, if Illuminate had been allowed to mine the bombers’ Internet histories? As the story goes on, there’s an understated interplay between Illuminate’s data mining and the Russians’ criminal enterprise, and the heroes must wrestle with the resulting moral dilemmas as they continue their investigation. Among the novel’s strengths are that its characters never pontificate and it doesn’t get bogged down in politics. Kris’ views, for example, seesaw wildly, making her relatable and sympathetic. However, the book later drops the debate entirely. Overall, there are too many characters to track, but the good guys are good and the bad guys are really bad, and sometimes that’s all a reader needs. The story gets tangled in vendettas, double crosses and sex, but the erotic scenes are gratuitous (“Kris had knelt over him, his torso jerking in pleasure while she swallowed the last of his exertions”). Part of the Russians’ scam also has to do with stolen lingerie, which feels like an excuse for dirty jokes. Smith has clearly done thorough research and often has a knack for description. Sometimes, though, the descriptions get carried away; one wouldn’t be “[s]porting rust colored skin,” for example, unless one was wearing it as a coat.

A suspenseful but unfocused technological thriller.

Publisher: Manuscript
Program: Kirkus Indie
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