A Spy Novel (Sort Of)
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A nearly bankrupt Texas software mogul lets the CIA solve his tax troubles. The price for the service is access to his surprisingly versatile brain.

Until recently, the Internet was very good for Travis Anderson, allowing him and his acquisitive wife Shelby to move in the slickest suburban Dallas social circles while leaving two-year-old son Noah in the capable hands of a Russian nanny. But the good life is collapsing. While Travis has been hitting the sauce during a fallow period of invention, his business partner, Reed, has been stuffing the company’s cash flow up his nose and, quite possibly, boffing Shelby. Perhaps as a result of the booze, Travis keeps hallucinating all kinds of disasters, seeing dire futures for his acquaintances. His own future is as bleak as it gets. Much of the money that went for Reed’s cocaine should have gone for taxes. Now there’s a $5 million tax liability. Juggling his drinking binges with convoluted plots to expose Shelby and Reed’s perfidy, Travis is teetering at the edge of panic and ruin when chirpy IRS agent Debra McFadden enters his life and offers a deal. Greater Governmental Powers have noticed Travis’s exceptional proficiency at a fairly tricky computer game, and they would like to see whether his skills go beyond normal. They are so interested that they will make that tax problem go away if Travis proves useful. Posing as an alcohol-intervention facilitator, Agent McFadden spirits Travis off for detox and paranormal testing. Even as he’s enduring the considerable discomforts of withdrawal, Travis proves, to his own surprise, that his particular abnormal skill is to locate missing individuals, a talent well worth erasure of his great big debt—which is replaced by such new problems as Shelby’s dubious pregnancy, the recurring appearance of a blue god, an especially creepy vegan guide to the paranormal universe, a mysterious pair of Goth siblings and Travis’s peskily growing morality.

Chaotic but often amusing first novel.

Pub Date: July 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-7432-7147-5
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2005