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November 2015

Book Review: The Lafayette Campaign

Frank Adversego, the socially awkward, retiring, glamorless hero of Andrew Updegrove's tech thrillers, is back. Frank made his inaugural appearance in The Alexandria Project: A Tale of Treachery and Technology. In my review, I explain how Frank stumbles upon a malware infection at the Library of Congress, is accused of orchestrating the attack, and in the process of proving his innocence helps avert a disaster of apocalyptic scale.

In The Lafayette Campaign: A Tale of Deceptions and Elections, Frank is $famous, for some value of fame. He's traveling once again through the Western States in his high high tech camper, procrastinating while half-heartedly attempting to publish a book, and discovering that he's better at hacking code than prose. A chance encounter with a bicyclist, Josette, and an opportunity to investigate allegations that someone's altering the results of electronic voting during presidential primary campaigns provide Frank with an opportunity to set aside the book to pursue a novel hack and to "pursue" the faintest possibility of romance with a lovely young French woman as well.

The stage is set, and Frank finds himself pursuing not one but possibly several electronic voter gaming conspiracies over the course of a U.S. presidential election season where both political parties have unimaginably bad candidates and where an unknown Native American emerges as a front runner. On an independent party ticket. 

The Lafayette Campaign is entertaining beyond how Frank discovers and ultimately thwarts election fraud. It's quite the maze of twisty turns passages. But Updegrove mercilessly lampoons primary campaigns and campaign funding, and given how the 2016 presidential campaign is proceeding, you may find yourself wondering just how closely art is imitating life here. Frank's investigation is technically credible yet plainly explained for Average Joes and Josettes. And Andrew's character development of Frank and the supporting cast continues to be refreshing.  The good guys are people you'd like to meet in real life and the villains are  manipulative, greedy bastards you'd like to avoid.

Andrew Updegrove's veered from the customary formula for a suspense novel but his formula is fun. I'm looking forward to future adventures with Frank Adversego.