- Mark Edmundson
- 16 August 2007
Two-thirds into William Gibson’s latest novel, a most contemporary of thrillers, a character declares that, ‘sometimes the closer to a truth one gets, the more complicated things become’. By this stage in proceedings, that certainly strikes a chord. Gibson really is something of a master of intrigue and Spook Country is quite a piece of storytelling, the kind of thriller so involving that it generates a giddy paranoia in the reader.
Set in the spring of last year, our chief protagonist Hollis is the former band member of a cult British rock group, now a budding investigative journalist enlisted by the shady publication Node (a subsidiary of Pattern Recognition’s Blue Ant) to investigate a nascent virtual art movement in LA. Tito is the member of a CIA-trained espionage family employed in data transfer via iPods to a mysterious old man in New York. Milgrim is a barbiturate junkie abducted for his ability to translate coded Russian text communications by the mysterious government agent Brown.
Layering mystery upon murky mystery through the very density of Gibson’s prose, every sentence imbued with a wealth of character and context, these absorbing plot strands are tenuously woven while the non-plussed reader is left feeling strangely secure that they will ultimately relate if not converge. Ultimately, Gibson delivers tight plotting with an economy of writing, an ear for credible dialogue and an imagination for the legitimate application of modern technologies in art and espionage. This gratifying, über-contemporary spy yarn can only further his reputation as cultural commentator par excellence.