cover image Code 6

Code 6

James Grippando. Harper, $27.99 (368p) ISBN 978-0-06-322378-3

At the start of this uneven standalone from bestseller Grippando (the Jack Swyteck series), Kate Gamble, an American University law student and would-be playwright, arrives at her parents’ penthouse apartment in Tysons Corner, Va., to find that her mother, Elizabeth, apparently just jumped to her death from its balcony. A note Elizabeth left behind apologizes to her husband and adds that she “did it for Kate.” Seeking to move on with her life, Kate accepts an internship at her father’s company, Buck Technologies International, a private data-integration firm serving “virtually every counterterrorism organization in the Western World”; she also works on a play about how IBM enabled the Nazis to use data from punch cards to track down Jews. Kate stumbles upon a secret at Buck Technologies that threatens the life of an employee she used to babysit for and places her in an awkward position when the Justice Department conducts a security audit of the company, headed by an old boyfriend. Thoughtful and plausible speculations about how big tech could become even more intrusive and a sympathetic, capable heroine make up only in part for plot contrivances and formulaic action sequences. Grippando’s execution falls short of his ambitions. Agent: Richard Pine, InkWell Management. (Jan.}