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Devil's Plaything Mass Market Paperback – May 31, 2011

76 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


“This thriller pushes the envelope to the edge and beyond in exciting and unique ways. Talk about a buddy story: How about a seasoned investigator and his octogenarian grandmother rushing against a ticking clock? Smart, captivating, sophisticated, I can’t say enough about this deftly-told story.” (Steve Berry)

“With Devil’s Plaything, Matt Richtel confirms what his first novel suggested: that he’s the absolute master of crafting amazing fiction around cutting edge science. Richtel’s singular gift is his ability to convey the human components of technological change. This is an utterly absorbing read -- gripping, exciting, touching and terrifying. ” (David Liss)

From the Back Cover

We all keep secrets, but what if someone wasn't just stealing our secrets but changing them . . . and our brains?

Journalist Nat Idle is nearly gunned down in Golden Gate Park. He quickly learns it was no random attack. Suddenly, in pursuit of the truth, he's running for his life through the shadows of Silicon Valley, a human lab animal caught in a deadly maze of neurotechnology and institutional paranoia. And his survival rests entirely in the hands of his eighty-five-year-old grandmother, Lane, who's suffering from dementia and can't remember the secret at the heart of the world-changing conspiracy.

Author, technology reporter, Pulitzer Prize winner, Matt Richtel has dreamed up an exquisite nightmare firmly grounded in true science. The future is now,the possibilities endless . . . and positively terrifying.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 433 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; 1St Edition edition (May 31, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061999695
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061999697
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (76 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #584,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Matt Richtel is a Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times journalist and bestselling writer of mysteries and thrillers. His books are fast-paced, character-centered stories in which things are not always as they seem. The backdrop for the books is the modern world. Technology is everywhere. Everything moves at lightning speed, from conspiracy, to love, business, and violence. Technology is our slave. Or has it become our dark master?

The books relate to Matt's journalism. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 2010 for a series of stories on distracted driving. The next year, he wrote an acclaimed series for the New York Times called "Your Brain On Computers" exploring how heavy technology use impacts our behavior and our brains.

Matt lives with his family in San Francisco. He writes from an office with a window that looks onto the former house of baseball legend Willie Mays. He -- Matt, not Willie -- is an avid tennis player, takes pride in making guacamole and coffee, and writes the occasional song.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By rgregg VINE VOICE on June 28, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Matt Richtel has taken two current hot topics and come up with a terrific read. One issue is that of aging, dementia and Alzheimer's. The other is the obsession with computer technology and need to be involved constantly in viewing data on an ongoing basis.
Nate Idle is a blogger who has a Grandmother in a retirement home. She has early onset Alzheimer's disease but is involved in a computer program intended to gather information about her history before she is no longer able to recall it.
During one on Nate's rather infrequent visits to his Grandmother, they are shot at in a local park. This is just the beginning of a fascinating plot which consistently keeps the reader guessing as to what will happen next and who is truthful and helpful. Lots of characters come and go but they are carefully drawn by Richtel so there is no confusion as to who is who but plenty of question as to who is telling the truth. He reveals secrets of the plot in small doses but keeps the reader turning pages to find out how it all turns out.
What this great tale does is make all of us question about the use and abuse of computers and the potential of damage that is possible if the wrong motives are used by the wrong people. It also makes us aware of the challenges the aged face in growing old gracefully and with dignity.
Make no mistake this is a great thriller with twists and turns along the way. A mysterious benefactor, a dental office that may not be what it seems, a hint of government conspiracy, some computer mumbo jumbo (but not too much), loads of gunfire and twists and turns galore will give great enjoyment to the reader but there is a strong moral message which also contributes to the overall experience. By the way, check out Richtel's first book "Hooked" which was also a stunning read.
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18 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Erwin VINE VOICE on June 10, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Devil 's Plaything is a book I wanted to like very much. The set up is sort of fascinating with a series of interviews spoken into a computer by an elderly woman. A computer that seems to be not just recording information, but analyzing it and recommending courses of action. Unfortunately the book commits the cardinal sin of thrillers: it is boring.

Nat Idle steps into the role of reluctant hero, trying to figure out why someone tried to kill his grandmother who is suffering from dementia during a brazen daylight attack. Surrounded by groups of strange but overwhelmingly flat characters, he keeps peeling back layers of a conspiracy which is explained quickly and with little fanfare during the last 15 pages of the book. Even the final showdown with the villains is handled quickly with literally just a few sentences.

This quick finish is almost inexplicable considering the ponderous pace of the previous 400 pages. Plenty of time is spent in cryptic dialogue with his grandmother. Plenty of time is spent building up the mystery of her early life, a mystery that has no meaningful payoff to the plot of the book, but merely pads out a book that was plenty long as it was.

My reaction to the book appears to be unique, as to this point, it has received mostly 4 and 5 star reviews. For whatever reason, this just didn't do it for me. The characters weren't interesting enough to carry the book. The thrills were few and far in between. Finally, even though the final revelation of the conspiracy certainly gives you pause when it comes to its implications, it does not carry that same dire sense of purpose that early Crichton novels did. It just feels like a sad and uninspired attempt to fill the void left by his death (and his last several books which were pretty bad in their own right).
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By TorridlyBoredShopper VINE VOICE on May 2, 2011
Format: Mass Market Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
We begin with a computer asking questions out of a past we wonder about and then switch to a park with a man and his grandmother walking. Then bullets start flying and odd things start happening, including the fact that grandma is not everything she seems - and a lot more than that.

The world a reader steps in here is certainly a science Mecca. it is filled with a lot of neuro and bio works and a lot of things are happening because of them. Also packed in here is a secret that has been kept for a while and a plot that seems to bounce back and forth - gaining some interesting ground.

I really like the writer's take on the future here. The wording definitely knows how to be sculpted here, and the story is certainly one that catches the eyes. With the plot working out and the characters working out, i found I liked everything from atmosphere and dialog to the oddity that keeps circling around everyone in play.

The story itself also has those hooks you always want to see. It grabs on and it threats to keep a hold on you, and you see to want it - or i did anyhow. i liked the feeling of it and I liked the twists - i never knew how a lot of it would play out.

There is a lot to like and really nothing bad here. a 5/5 is a great thing for those in the SCI/FI world, and those who are just looking for another read will be happy here as well. I liked the book, much more than i thought, and hope to come back and revisit this soon. I'm thinking about telling all my friends to check it, too.
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