cover image The Hollywood Spiral

The Hollywood Spiral

Paul Neilan. Grand Central, $28 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5387-3667-8

In this clever near-future hard-boiled detective tale from Neilan (Apathy and Other Small Victories), devastating multiple “online data hacks and security breaches” enabled a company, Zodiac, to take over the entire infrastructure of the internet, replacing it with the Grid. The Grid both provided greater security and ease of use, and rapidly became omnipresent, producing individual scores for people that were “combination credit rating and social metric.” Harrigan, an L.A. private eye, who tries to minimize his time on the Grid, is approached by Stan Volga, who pays him much needed cash to trace a missing hooker named Anna. Volga wants the search kept off Grid. Harrigan accepts the job, only to rapidly run into an obstacle in the form of Charlie Horse, a vicious mobster who got his nickname from his habit of shooting out people’s kneecaps. Charlie is also interested in Anna’s whereabouts. The search gets even more fraught when Harrigan learns that Zodiac is looking for her as well. Neilan makes this dystopian and unsettling world feel frighteningly real. Fans of Jonathan Lethem’s Gun, with Occasional Music will be enthralled. Agent: Simon Lipskar, Writers House. (June)