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Daniel Springer's concept of a techno-thriller where the focus is on the characters rather than the technology works extremely well. The reader is captured on the first page and can't stop until they get to the end. The reader has difficulty figuring out exactly who the villain is, and will be surprised at not only the motive but also the person when it's announced after a chase with the game running. Springer's talent for using a few words to get his point across paints a breathtaking picture of gamers going for a hot new game where they play in the out of doors rather than from behind a computer screen. The dialogue is quite believable, as are the reactions of those involved. The Wilco Project whetted my appetite for more works by this talented author.
THE WILCO PROJECT reads like a movie, and would make a great one! The writing is immediate, direct, and accessible. Besides the pacing, what I particularly liked about this book was the technology. Dan Springer was able to weave in descriptions of how this game could work in a believable way that didn't make my eyes glaze over. The details of software development, from project design through testing and release, made me think the author knows something about the process, which was confirmed by reading his author bio. In addition, he nailed archetypes in the corporate world, using academics as the microcosm: the confident leader; the power hungry adjunct; the unsociable nerd; the cocky rising star.
If you like thrillers, with some romance thrown in, along with a serious who-done-it that you probably won't figure out until the very end, you'll really enjoy THE WILCO PROJECT. I hope Dan Springer is working on another thriller.
College professor Steven Archer and his team are developing a new game played with cell phones, the testing of which is wildly popular with the student body...until student bodies begin turning up during the games. Horrified that players are being killed, and baffled that 911 signals lead responders away from the victims, Steven is thrown into a complex murder case. Together with an old detective friend and a journalism student, he races to decode the sabotaged program before the killer can strike again.
The reader is thus drawn into the intricacies of the virtual world and its supporting technology. Yes, the jargon and descriptions sometimes went whistling over my head, but the story held me anyway. Actually, Springer's descriptions are easier on the layman's mind than most. For one thing, most of us have duked it out with a router or a LAN or a game program by now anyway.
Springer has a real gift for dialog, both as speech and thought. It's natural, familiar, and scene-setting. Students talk like students, cops talk like cops, and that stuffed-shirt college dean we all want to shoot sounds exactly as you'd expect.
The one thing I found somewhat distracting was the editing. I have a feeling the publisher assigned someone from the Romance dept. Characters' hearts race and pound - sometimes twice in one paragraph. Steven Archer is always swallowing hard or taking a deep breath, particularly during the frantic action at the end when the reader least wants to hear about it. But, all said and done, Daniel Springer knows how to weave an exciting, intelligent and satisfying tale. The Wilco Project is well worth the read.
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