THE MASAKADO LESSON by William P. Kennedy


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A quirky cast of computer-wielding misfits adds dash to an otherwise bland techno-thriller by the author of Code Conquistador (1982). J.P. Toole, a cardsharp-cum-con-man who had been caught using his Apple II computer to relieve Citibank of a million plus dollars, is sprung from prison by John Cobb, a tight-lipped NSA agent. As the condition of his release, Toole pools rip-off-artist skills with beautiful Karen Albert, a former M.I.T. professor who's one of the world's top computer experts. Their mission: to travel to Tokyo to derail a computer development project that, if successful, will guarantee Japanese victory in the technology race. The architect of the nascent supercomputer is former Olympic gymnast Yamagata Fujii, a brilliant egotist whose downfall, Toole postulates, may be his ravenous--and most un-Japanese--personal ambition. But while Toole and Albert play at industrial espionage, infiltrating poker games, a whorehouse, even Fujii's backyard hot tub in their attempt to break into the computer, their boss Cobb is cooking up a deeper double cross. The cleverly rendered portraits of these skittish schemers and their various hangers-on raise expectations of an equally engaging showdown. Alas, instead of dazzling computer pyrotechnics, the battles of wit diffuse, and the thrills tend towards the bonk-on-the-head variety. Shallow plotting mars this Far-Eastern romp, but Kennedy's deadpan descriptions and occasional concessions to farce make for some fun nonetheless.

Pub Date: March 31st, 1986
Publisher: St. Martin's