OUTSOURCED by Dave Zeltserman (2010, Kindle Books)
The cover for Outsourced by Dave Zeltserman (Kindle Books) is deceptive. At first glance It appears to be a comedic novel. Or one filled with black humor in the Jim Thompson mode. You can imagine a movie version with Tom Hanks. And nothing would be further from what this novel is about.
Four out-of-work software engineers decide to rob a bank. One of them, Dan Wilson, had designed the architecture for the bank’s security system and knows exactly when the system will go down. It will go down not because of a design flaw, but because the bank decided to use an offshore company to do the coding for the system. Dan has seen the coding, knows it’s garbage, and knows the flaws. They’ve come up with the perfect plan to rob the bank and get themselves out of a financial black hole, but few plans survive contact.
Two simultaneous stories run next to the software engineers’ scheme. One is that of police detective Alex Resnick, who’s suffering from the death of his child and the divorce of his wife. Two, Viktor Petrinko, a former Russian KGB interrogator and now a mob boss of a Massachusetts town. Petrinko has been running the old “protection” racket on local store owners and Resnick is determined to put him away. The mobster also has plenty of cash and documents stashed in safe deposit boxes at the bank the software engineers are planning to rob. And they’re the prime target for the robbery.
Needless to say, all three stories are going to intersect. With disastrous results.
The actual robbery occurs toward the middle of the book. The rest of the novel deals with the aftermath. It would be too much of a spoiler to detail how the robbery goes terribly wrong. Most of the remainder of the novel centers around the mobster, police detective, and Dan Wilson, who’s traumatized by what happens.
My one criticism with this thriller is the lack of back story for all but a few of the software engineers. Most of the plot centers around Dan Wilson and his family. The other conspirators consist of Shrini Kumar, an Indian expatriate who dreads going back home and having to marry his arranged bride; Gordon, who’s pushing sixty and has issues with women, and Joel, who’s a gun enthusiast. Joel brings a friend of his into the gang, Eric, but we’re never quite sure why. Shrini is the only member who’s under fifty.
With the exception of Eric, all of these men had worked together in the past and made good money. All suffered in the tech crash after 2000. But you’re never quite sure just what they we’re doing, other than working night and day for a company that went under. I’d have like some more back story. Zeltserman has said there was more in the original manuscript, but his publisher wanted it and the social commentary toned down for the market. Someday I’d like to see the original manuscript he submitted.
This is the first kindle book and second novel I’ve read by the author. He’s now on my “Must Read” list. My standard for judging a novel is the “Pull-In” factor. If I can’t put the book down, it qualifies. And Outsourced definitely qualifies.
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