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The Mocking Program    by Alan Dean Foster order for
Mocking Program
by Alan Dean Foster
Order:  USA  Can
Aspect, 2003 (2002)
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* *   Reviewed by Wesley Williamson

This near-future police procedural, which could have been written as a collaboration between William Gibson and Ed McBain, starts off in the Montezuma Strip, which sprawls along the old US-Mexican border, a megalopolis of hi-tech industry and commerce, sex and sin, stretching from Baja to the Gulf. It has a gruesome beginning, as Inspector Angel Cardenas is called to investigate the case of a male body found emptied of most of its internal organs except the heart, (for which there was not much demand since good cheap artificial hearts became available). This is not really too unusual, but he is surprised when the D.N.A. results show the body is that of two different people, one a local executive George Anderson and the other a mysterious Texas businessman.

The plot thickens when Anderson's wife Surtsey and daughter Katla promptly disappear, and even more when the Inspector and his aide are lured into Anderson's home and almost trapped and killed when the house explodes. Then the Inspector finds that several different mob syndicates are trying to capture or kill Katla, for unknown reasons. After several more near escapes from death, one by the intervention of robotic life-forms (the wugs), which live in the cracks of the human world without any interaction, Angel, using his highly developed intuitive powers, finds that Surtsey and Katla have taken refuge in an ecological reserve in Costa Rica, operated by gorillas with artificially enhanced intelligence.

All turns out reasonably well in the end, after more brushes with death, and there is even a hint that another novel, perhaps starring Katla and the wugs, may be forthcoming. The Mocking Program has good, fast-paced action with a complex puzzle plot, but a kind of loosey-goosey ending. There is lots of Spanglish slang, but you don't need to consult the glossary; most of it is easily recognizable in context.

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