Donna Andrews, Author . Berkley Prime Crime $21.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-425-18191-1

In a detour from her first three outings featuring the delightful Meg Langslow (Revenge of the Wrought-Iron Flamingos, etc.), Andrews pulls her quirky new sleuth, Turing Hopper, from cyberspace. Turing, named for AI pioneer Alan Turing, is an AIP—Artificial Intelligence Personality—and the star of a vast number of research programs housed at Universal Library (UL) in Crystal City outside Washington, D.C. Turing's personalized banter with her customers is so down to earth she seems almost real, and she herself begins to believe she's becoming sentient. When her programmer, Zach Malone, mysteriously disappears, Turing suspects foul play and explores every avenue within her capabilities to find him. Needing human aid, she asks Tim Pincoski, UL's "Xeroxcist," and Maude Graham, secretary to a UL executive, for help. Programming an investigation takes Turing beyond her limited form and all three into corporate espionage, danger and murder. UL surveillance cameras are everywhere, and Turing's capacity to invade files and data in almost every area scarily evokes Big Brother. Without a doubt, this is a unique effort executed with great skill. The high-tech investigation, Turing's plan for herself and her ruminations about becoming almost human are sure to engage computer buffs everywhere. Fans looking for the lighthearted, humorous romps of the author's earlier books, however, may be disappointed. (Apr. 2)

Forecast:Blurbs from the disparate likes of biographer Daniel Stashower, regionalist Earlene Fowler and Edgar-winner Steve Hamilton should help propel this unusual entry from Agatha and Anthony awards–winner Andrews onto genre bestseller lists. The loss of some cozy readers could be more than made up for by a crossover boost from SF fans at home with computer technology.

Reviewed on: 03/18/2002
Release date: 04/01/2002
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 304 pages - 978-0-425-18945-0
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