Public Art – Postal Service Eagles in Flight, Palo Alto, CA
WTF–the novel introduces the reader to SineCo, an international digital search company that is planning to kidnap and hold for ransom all the data that you and I have given to social media, banks and governments. The massive SineCo computers are ready to go online and it seems that nothing can stop them. Only an obscure collaborative group of scientists who communicate on a blog called Dear Diary are opposed to SineCo. Doomsday is approaching, and world calamity is at hand.
As the novel opens, the protagonists are scattered about the world, deeply involved in their own problems and unaware of their role in David Shafer’s techno-thriller. But, soon they must come together to help Dear Diary block the SineCo’s nefarious scheme.
Lydia, a Persian American working for a NGO in Mandalay, Myanmar, inadvertently observed a sinister group of men in dark suits when she visited a remote upcountry village. Unfortunately for Linda, the Suits’ bodyguards spotted her, and Lydia’s life quickly turned sour— her driver disappeared, her visa expired without explanation, and back home in LA her father’s computer is hacked. Dad is arrested because child pornography was found (the police were anonymously tipped off). As Lydia gets ready to leave Myanmar, a mysterious email from Dear Diary popped up on her computer screen. It’s an offer of help getting her dad out of jail. Well, if it helps Dad, maybe I could…
Meanwhile, Leo is having a breakdown in Portland, Oregon. Leo is a slacker with a trust fund, and he is weighted down by the troubles of the world. He has just been fired from his job in a daycare center. Moreover, his sisters say he’s incompetent; they demand that he go into rehab, and may push to have him put away in an institution. Leo is a pot head and a global conspiracy nut — his current obsession is a world movement called Dear Diary.
In New York, Mark Devereaux is a down-at-the-heels self-help guru who is the inspirational sidekick of Jack Straw the billionaire owner of SineCo. Jack wants Mark to pitch a new data collection project where people sign-up to wear contact lenses that gather data on the their daily activity. The offer is lucrative and appeals to Marks’ desire to live the luxurious life. Mark is uncertain about joining Jack Straw, but maybe he will talk things over with Leo, who was once, a long time ago, his best friend.
The author of Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot is David Shafer, who lives in Portland and is a fan of all that makes Portland a great place. He was asked about his novel:
“A year ago, I would have resisted the notion that it was a techno-thriller,” Shafer says. “I always wanted it to be seen as a novel of ideas and characters. I’m not as snooty about that right now. The techno-thriller shape, the conspiracy story, brings in a lot of readers. The depressive white guy in Portland story, you can push some of that if you earn your readers’ attention. I’m perfectly comfortable in the techno-thriller as long as the reader finds more than that after the first few chapters.”
—Portland Tribune, David Shafer Chuffed by Success, 2014.
This is a well-written book with characters that held my interest. It’s time to take a break from the non-stop political headlines, and escape into a good novel. Let me suggest David Shafer’s 2014 début — Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot (I’m referring to the novel, not the unrelated movie of the same name starring Tina Fey).
P.S. If you want the real skinny about military slang, let me suggest: Whiskey Tango Foxtrot: The Real Language of the Modern American Military (Paperback) By Alan Axelrod, which is sold by Kepler’s our local independent book store.