Friday, July 8, 2011

The WILCO Project - a brilliantly conceived techno-thriller that gets close to home

I know, I know.  “Techno-thriller” immediately conjures up scenarios of global conspiracies and futuristic weaponry. Not this time. This time, author Daniel Springer drops it right into your hand.
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 against time 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. (It’s a trick I learned reading Tom Clancy. When the characters start eulogizing every detail of their gadgets, I tend to skip over everything that isn’t Need to Know.) 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.

In addition to turning out a fast-paced mystery, the author 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.

Author Daniel Springer
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.
I met the author and his book at the Book Expo America. His publisher, Solstice, had the booth right next to VerveStar’s. And if you don’t mind this grandmother’s candid opinion, the young man is much better looking in person!


Daniel Springer said...


Thank you so much for the wonderful review and the kind words--I am flattered.

My best,

Daniel Springer

Mary Fagan said...

It was great reading, Dan! Is your next book a techno-thriller, too? Keep me posted! -Mary