This is a work of fiction. The characters, scenes, and oplot are invented. Truth may be stranger than fiction, but fiction can be more illuminating. What is not invented are the rapidly escalating threats around the world to journalists and other truth seekers; the dangers of privatized defense and intelligence services, of divisive entertainment masquerading as journalism, and of the rising surveillance state.
The excerpt above from Bryan Christy’s Acknowledgement at the end of this novel tells you everything you need to know about the book’s themes and plot. It’s a timely and entertaining look at our boring dystopia in which an amoral search for profit is practically the only philosophy (or religion) with any sway. In particular, it explores the ways in which the powerful can ignore so many of the borders (geographic or moral) that the rest of us live within. It’s like if you crossed Mr. Robot with National Geographic.
Christy writes from an experience as an investigative journalist. He’s uncovered everything from wildlife trafficking to pedophiles in Vatican City. While this is a novel, I do think most of the characters are some version of the types of people Christy has interacted with in his career. That may be why the characters aren’t extremely fleshed out and feel more like quote delivery devices than people. Even the protagonist, Tom Klay, seems like a highly photoshopped version of Christy. (Although, to be fair, Christy looks like he is ready for his own premium streaming series. I wouldn’t want to be on his bad side.)
I recommend this book to folks who like Michael Clayton, any movie in which Rachel Weisz is investigating something, or Jack Reacher-type globetrotting action.