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Devil's Plaything: A Mystery for Idle Minds Hardcover – May 3, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 250 pages
  • Publisher: Poisoned Pen Press (May 3, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1590588878
  • ISBN-13: 978-1590588871
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,228,027 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"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 Barry

"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

"In Devil's Plaything, Matt Richtel has once again crafted a brilliant thriller that defies genre and scope, a twisted blend of Michael Crichton and Alfred Hitchcock. The science--ripped from today's headlines--is the backbone for a story both rich in character and riotously exciting. From page one, you'll not be able to put this book down. So get comfortable...you'll be reading this in one sitting."  —James Rollins

"In Richtel's deft follow-up to Hooked (2007), medical reporter Nat Idle thinks someone taking potshots at him and his beloved grandmother, Lane, in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, may be payback for his snide exposé involving city officials and torched port-a-potties. Further attacks and an encrypted flash drive from a scientist who subsequently disappears soon indicate otherwise, and Lane's disjointed statements related to a computer-assisted oral history project suggest that she may know more than she's capable of revealing about a larger conspiracy. Surrounded by dubious figures such as a mysterious venture capitalist, an anal-retentive nursing home manager, a neurologist with suspicious connections, and a colorful witch who reads people's auras, Nat is wary of trusting anyone and frantic for Lane's safety. Numerous plot twists and cliffhangers keep the reader turning the pages in this plausible if disquieting scenario of Big Brother not only watching but also messing with minds." —Publishers Weekly

"Set in San Francisco, it's a fabulously swift moving thriller of the old fashioned variety. A good hearted, and endearingly fallible hero chasing after the bad guys and eventually emerging victorious." —San Francisco Chronicle

"Fast pacing keeps the pages turning in this entertaining thriller." —Booklist

About the Author

Matt Richtel is a Pulitzer-prize winning journalist, novelist and syndicated daily cartoonist. Since 2000, he has worked in the San Francisco bureau of the New York Times, writing about technology, how it impacts society, and how heavy use of gadgets changes how we live, work, and relate to each other. His recent series “Your Brain On Computers,” has illuminated how technology use even changes how our brains are wired. His series about distracted driving won the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting. He was a finalist in 2007 for the Gerald Loeb Award for coverage of the Hewlett-Packard spying scandal. He has also covered Internet gambling, identify theft, the Silicon Valley boom and bust, video games, mobile communications, and the business of pornography. His first novel, Hooked, was a critically-acclaimed bestseller and Booksense selection called by USA Today “pure, heart-pounding escapism.” He also writes “Rudy Park,” a daily comic strip that has been syndicated by United Media since 2001. The strip revolves around life at an Internet café. When not writing, Matt plays tennis and piano (though not well) on an upright piano that survived the bombing at Dresden. He lives in San Francisco with his wife, Meredith, and their son, Milo, and the couple is expecting a new addition, daughter, in Sept. 2010. Matt grew up Boulder, Co, and received his bachelors degree from Berkeley and a graduate degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Susan Tunis TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 26, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I first met Nat Idle when he appeared in Matt Richtel's debut novel, Hooked. At the time, he won me over completely. It wasn't merely that he was a likable, charming guy, it was that he exhibited my very favorite characteristic in a hero--fallibility. He wasn't a superman. He was just an average guy doing the best he could under extraordinary circumstances. Nat narrates, "As a tough guy, I'm way out of my league; I'm a pen-wielding freelance writer, not James Bond, or James Dean; maybe James Taylor."

And, at long last, he's back. Let me start by saying that you don't need to have read Hooked before reading Devil's Plaything. Each book stands alone just fine. In this latest thriller, Nat has a buddy, and it's not who you'd expect. His cohort in this misadventure is his elderly grandmother, Lane, with whom he has always been close. Lane, alas, has taken a turn for the worse. She is suffering dementia, but in recent weeks her decline has been precipitous. Nat realizes he really must spend more time with her, and it is on an outing to Golden Gate Park that the action begins.

While enjoying a leisurely sunset stroll, suddenly shots ring out, and Nat and Lane appear to be the targets. Well, Nat appears to be. Not everyone appreciates his occasional forays into investigative journalism. What could anyone have against a sweet octogenarian? What indeed? As this complex tale unfolds, Richtel seeds the book with any number of suspicious characters and red herrings. What is the deal with the high-strung manager of Lane's assisted living facility? What is the secret from back in WWII that his grandmother has been keeping all these years? Who is "the blue man"? Why is Lane afraid of visiting the dentist?
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on May 3, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In San Francisco medical reporter Nate Idle makes some cash posting a medical blog. He also spends his free time with his editor Pauline Sanchez in her office.

At the same time at Magnolia Manor his octogenarian grandma Lane suffers from dementia. She currently responds to online questions from the Human Memory crusade. She shares a lot of personal family information with the computer that calmly says trust me. Nat ignores his grandma's ramblings until he takes her for a stroll in Golden Gate Park; only someone fires what seems like random shots, but he begins to think this culprit targeted the Idle pair. Soon he realizes the attempt is tied to an encrypted flash drive he received anonymously by an unknown person demanding a meeting though he wonders why him and his family.

The freshness to this over the top of the Twin Peaks neuroscience technological conspiracy is the beleaguered everyman's octogenarian grandma who suffers from dementia so cannot be relied on for what she remembers, which is very little beyond WWII. Still fans that ignore plausibility will be Hooked as the grandson and his grandma team up in an entertaining investigative medical thriller.

Harriet Klausner
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By carl brookins VINE VOICE on May 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover
This is a novel born of the twenty-first century. It is technology-rich, abrupt, punchy, and filled with first-person pithy observations. It has a modern complicated plot and some dark conspiracies worthy of flat-worlders and those who still appear to believe the landings on the moon were merely another government scam.

Blogger Nat Idle is drifting through life as a medical reporter and occasionally paying attention to his rapidly aging grandmother, the only member of his family in close proximity. When he and Grandma Lane are on a casual outing in a San Francisco park, a mysterious stranger, apparently driving a Prius, shoots at him, or her, or them. How could this gentle, rapidly aging woman, with no apparent enemies, attract an assassin? Not possible so it must be Nat who was the target. After all, he was engaged in a controversy with some San Francisco cops about Porta Potty corruption.

The novel uses a criminal conspiracy of immense possibilities and proportions to raise questions about the rising dependence on technology to replace our individual memories, and to sermonize about American society's eagerness to shuttle its older generations into places where they can die out of sight and mostly out of mind. Those shortcomings aside, the novel develops and carries along an inventive idea that is highly fraught with tension and believability.
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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.

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