cover image Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot

David Shafer. Little, Brown/Mulholland, $26 (432p) ISBN 978-0-316-25263-8

Journalist Shafer hits all the right buttons in his debut as he mixes crime fiction, espionage, and SF in a darkly comic novel about paranoia and big business. A battle for control over all the information in the world has begun. The Committee, an international organization comprising industry and media leaders, has plans to privatize the news, the publishing industry, and all other social media. Dear Diary, an online movement, has set itself up as a formidable enemy of the Committee, using politics, spy craft, and technology to thwart its initiatives. Caught up in this war are Leila Majnoun, a disaffected nonprofit worker; Leo Crane, an unorthodox kindergarten teacher who lives off a modest trust fund; and Mark Deveraux, a drug addict who inadvertently becomes a bogus self-help guru and appears to work for the Committee. At times convoluted but never slack, the plot thrives on a realistic approach while seamlessly switching between such locales as Myanmar, London, and Oregon. The Committee’s takeover of the Internet, its ability to change words as they are being typed, and its targeting of enemies’ family members evokes a chilling, Orwellian society. Agent: Gráinne Fox, Fletcher & Co. (Aug.)