Rozan delivers a frenetic thriller that begins with a kidnapping, the violence escalating as the clock ticks down from twelve hours to zero in a desperate game of cat and mouse.
PI Bill Smith’s partner, Lydia Chin, is the object of the kidnapping, the crazed voice of her abductor screeching through a cell phone as he tells Bill what is expected. Bill must decipher random clues from one location to another, his only goal to decipher the next location and find Lydia. There is one caveat: absolutely no cops.
The first destination yields a dead Asian woman. Before Bill can assimilate the fact that the body isn’t Lydia’s, the police converge on the building, sirens blaring. Suddenly Bill is wanted for murder, the prime suspect in a series of crimes that accumulate with each new location. Turning to Lydia’s hacker cousin, Linus Wong, and his punk friend Trella, Bill’s only edge is the digital mastery of the tech-savvy kids who ride the waves of the Internet for information. Linus and Trella refuse to leave Bill to his own devices, tagging along from one hairy predicament to another.
Linus and Trella are the stars of the story, Linus prefacing each statement with “dude” and Trella up for any challenge, thumbs flying over keyboards as they text and Twitter to find the next destination and help Bill reach his goal. Harnessing Linus’s technological skills and Trella’s lack of physical limitations from one setup to another, Smith barely escapes time after time as Lydia’s kidnapper rigs traps for the frustrated PI, each hurdle of more heinous design than the last.
The cast of characters is a wild mix: a Chinese pimp and his muscle; Lydia’s Aunt Mary; a cop; a drunk associate from Bill’s past; and the Chinese prostitutes the kidnapper uses for bait. The dialog is as driven as the action as a lunatic calls the shots from Chinatown to Chelsea, from Harlem to Manhattan. For all the violence - and there is plenty - Rozan wrangles this crew with the precision of a master craftsman, the humor as rich as the epithets that erupt in Bill’s increasingly acrimonious conversations with the villain.
Murder, exploding bombs, wild car chases and digital acrobatics, Rozan leaves nothing out of this mad rush to second-guess a crazy man and save his partner. A deadly confrontation is inevitable, the fiend unmasked in one final desperate attempt to dodge a bomb. As Linus says, “Dude, I’m there.”