Hollis Henry is trying to become a journalist. She was the singer for a 90's band called the Curfew. She is still recognized and infamous for it. Now she takes on freelance work. Her current job is in Los Angeles for a new, unknown, not yet published magazine called Node. She is told she is to study and write about locative art - a virtual reality based art form. But soon she is working with the multi-millionaire owner of Big Ant, the company sponsoring Node. Hubertus Bigend soon tells her the locative art is based on the technology of a young man named Bobby Chambo. Chambo has another mysterious job that Bigend wants Henry to discover.
Tito is a Cuban living in New York City. His family appears to be a shadowy spy family who had the same business in Cuba before immigrating to New York, escaping the Castro regime. The family is hidden, experts in covering their own tracks. Tito is being prepared to participate in a large, covert job for "the old man" - a man who had worked with Tito's family for years, including in Cuba when Tito's father died.
Milgrim is a junkie who is being held hostage. His drug of choice is prescription anti-depressants. The shady man, Brown, who is holding him for his special linguistic skills. Brown is able to keep Milgrim from running by providing enough drugs for one day at a time and threatening that his watchers will bring Milgrim back if he tries to run. Milgrim is also trying to avoid a drug dealer in New York City whom he owes a large amount of money. Although he doesn't like being Brown's captive, he is safe and well supplied.
The term Spook Country refers to spies and secrets and locations. You can bet the three story lines will converge before the book is over. It is quickly apparent that Brown is trying to spy on Tito's family. Henry's story won't tie in until later.
I'm ambivalent about Spook Country. Since it was written by William Gibson, I was expecting near future science fiction, but this is present day espionage. I wasn't disappointed by that aspect because I like suspense novel too, as is apparent in my reviews.
I never could get into the novel. The locative art is interesting, but falls to the wayside and doesn't fulfill the promise it is given at the beginning. Hollis Henry becomes fairly rounded, but otherwise the characters stay flat, especially Brown (I believe he's supposed to be fairly single minded and one dimensional anyway). It's fairly predictable and rarely suspenseful. The information premise is interesting yet never carries through - we don't get a clear idea of what happens after the major intervention.
If you haven't read William Gibson before, don't start with Spook Country. During the first 2/3 of the book it is confusing as the author jumps from story line to story line. The beginning reminded me of Haruki Murakami's novels, but it doesn't pull the story lines together strongly enough at the end.
These reviews are personal opinions only and in no way reflect other readers' opinions of the books discussed.
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