Spook Country

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Spook Country is only the third of William Gibson’s novels that I have read. The first—and, I have to say, best—was Pattern Recognition. Spook Country shares with it the same sense of incipient danger amidst a cultural malaise spiked with a curious hope. It also shares the wealthy and enigmatic Hubertus Bigend. If you’ve read and liked Pattern Recognition, you will like Spook Country. I highly recommend it.

Some of the claims in the book are too bizarre to be true, yet they are. For example, one character tells the protagonist, Hollis Henry, that a staggering $12 billion was sent to Iraq and distributed without any oversight or monetary controls. This was true; you can read about it here. One shipment consisted of shrinked-wrapped hundred dollar bills totaling over $2 billion. That’s nearly a ton of currency. The money was not US taxpayer funds; it was seized Iraqi assets, so it belonged to the Iraqis. Nevertheless, you can imagine the potential for abuse and corruption with that much money flowing freely into a war zone. If you can’t, Gibson can.

Like other books by Gibson, Spook Country requires careful reading and attention. Gibson seems to have an encyclopedic knowledge of recent—and not so recent—popular culture. His characters are comfortable with Google, GPS systems, and Internet-enabled phones. Comfortable but also distrustful. The book follows three characters whose stories seem at first unrelated. The switch from one story to another was disorienting at first, but quickly took on a rythmn of it s own. It was a fascinating and satisfying read.

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