From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* Pynchon's debut novel, V., appeared 50 years ago, and ever since he's been tracking dubious covert actions and the arc and consequences of technology in novels of labyrinthine complexity, impish wit, and open-armed compassion. Of late, his inquiry has taken the form of rambunctious and penetrating crime novels. Inherent Vice (2009), currently being adapted for film, is set in 1960s Los Angeles and features a pothead PI and the launch of the digital revolution. In his latest, a hilarious, shrewd, and disquieting metaphysical mystery, Pynchon expresses love for New York City and leeriness of the seemingly boundless reach of the Internet. In spring 2001, the dot-com bubble has burst and 9/11 looms. Maxine Tarnow, a fraud investigator gone rogue, is unflappable, wise-cracking, Beretta-toting, and Jewish. Devoted to her young sons, she is embroiled in an amorphous case involving a sinister techie billionaire, diverted funds, Islamic terrorists, hip-hop-spouting Russian gangsters, a black-ops agent, a cosmic bike messenger, and a Deep Web virtual reality. Fearless, caustic, lightning-witted Maxine (sister to characters created by Sara Paretsky and Cynthia Ozick) instigates some of the funniest banter ever scripted. But amid the sharp hilarity of this exuberantly maze-like, pop-culture-peppered, deeply informed tale, Pynchon incisively and cuttingly broaches unanswered questions surrounding the tragedy of 9/11 and elucidates just how profoundly life has changed in its wake. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Pynchon is a magnet for media attention and reader fervency, and this New York mystery will exert a powerful pull.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Once again, Pynchon delivers an -extraordinary sense of the zeitgeist. As the book opens, Maxine Tarnow-sort of separated from staid Horst-gets her sons off to school in an artfully rendered Upper West Side directly before 9/11. A fraud investigator who's lost her license, which makes for scuzzy clients but lets her pack a Beretta, Maxine is on the case when filmmaker friend Reg contacts her about his suspicions regarding hashslingrz, the computer security firm he's been asked to document. Maxine's investigations lead her to hashslingrz monomaniac Gabriel Ice; Igor, a Russian mafioso with a conscience; and two rap-spouting sidekicks named Misha and Grisha; government agent Windust, a murderer and torturer with whom Maxine exchanges information and a carnal moment; and many more. Then there's friend Vyrva, whose husband has helped create the virtual escape site DeepArcher, emblem of the turn-of-the-21st-century techno-angst, -greed, and -possibility that is the book's thematic context. VERDICT A theory is voiced here about CIA involvement in 9/11 to get funding from anti-Islamic sources. But 9/11 is not ultimately the point. Nor is Maxine's page-turning, occasionally dense, high art-low art mystery trail. What matters is the creation of a time, a place, and authentic, deeply connected characters, all heightened by Pynchon's darkly hilarious way with language and located on the "bleeding edge" as the world changed. [See Prepub Alert, 5/6/13.]-Barbara Hoffert, Library Journal (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.