Nat Idle, a
So begins HOOKED, a pop thriller for the Digital Age, narrated with the force and the pace of an intimate email dispatch you can't stop reading. Each chapter of this novel will keep listeners hooked as Nat Idle searches for the love of his life in the midst of manipulation and conspiracy.
Just as previous generations were influenced by movies, today we are becoming hooked on Internet technology, which is changing the way we read, think, and dream. HOOKED vividly illustrates how technology is turning us into a national of addicts. It will make you rethink your relationship with your computer and your mobile phone.
About the Author
Matt Richtel has covered technology and telecommunications in the New York Time's San Francisco bureau since 2000. Under the pen name "Theron Heir," he writes the syndicated daily comic strip, Rudy Park, which is published in newspapers around the country. Dubbed by Newsweek as "a contender for comic strip of the decade," Rudy Park revolves around the lives and employees and regulars of an Internet café.
Read an Excerpt
By Matt Richtel
Grand CentralCopyright © 2007 Matt Richtel
All right reserved.
Chapter OneI 'm guessing that the moment that your life begins to unravel is often unceremonious-heralded by a whimper. The bang should have told me something.
I remember mostly details.
The extra foam sliding down the side of the mocha. A couple arguing over whether to put the "Mighty OJ" juicer on their bridal registry. The rottweiler tied outside the café, standing on hind legs, paws pressed urgently against the window.
When she walked by, I was reading a languid description of a Boston river, somewhat guiltily speeding through the imagery to get back to the book's action. I wouldn't have noticed her at all had she not put a small, folded square of paper on the corner of my table. I registered graceful hands, and a ring on the index finger. Then I focused on the piece of paper. Was I being picked up?
When I looked up again, she was nearly out the screen door, purposeful, and not stopping to look back. I dog-eared a page in my book, picked up the folded note, and followed her.
I scanned the street. The young transplants who call San Francisco's Marina District home meandered with designer sunglasses and designer baby strollers, enjoying a fogless July afternoon. Through the crowd, I could see she was halfway into a red Saab parked in front of the PitaParlor.
Something kept me from calling out. I figured I'd wave her down, but she was in the car and pulling away before I could get close enough to yell without making a scene. I looked at the textured beige stationery in my palm. I unfolded the corners, and saw words like a bullhorn:
"Get out of the café-NOW!"
The café exploded.
Smoke. Car alarms. Glass, ashes, a cloud of dust. A sound inside my head like a hangover delivered via freight train. I don't think I ever lost consciousness. The blast took me three feet through the air, dropped me on the pavement, but seemed to leave me intact.
I've seen footage of war zones, where the world seems to be coming undone. This was nothing like that-just a single moment of extraordinary violence, followed by haze. Like a bloody version of the time my father slammed a stainless steel pot on the kitchen floor to get my brother's attention.
The front window of the café was blown out, and a side wall was ripped, though not torn down, exposing metal and concrete innards. A couple wandered out from the screen door; he held an arm limply at his side, her bloody legs churned between step and stumble. The owner of the rottweiler checked his pet for wounds.
These days, you imagine the first thought at such a moment would be of terrorism.
My first thought was of Annie.
She was rarely far from my mind, even four years after the accident that took her life at the age of twenty-eight. Mostly, I'd thought of her at moments of transition-when I got up, climbed into bed, or on a long drive between interviews. It said as much about me as us; it was in those moments, the quiet instances when life lacked structure, that I most needed a place to focus.
I wouldn't defend my relationship with Annie as perfect, but it defined love for me, and endured. She was always chewing strong breath mints, causing our kisses to taste spicy, and I got sad when I smelled cinnamon. Sometimes at night, I told an imaginary Annie stories aloud and tried to guess at which point she would have sleepily asked me to wrap it up.
But it was more than longing that made me think of her as a thin layer of dust settled over me. It was the note I'd been handed. I'd know Annie's handwriting anywhere.
"Can you move your legs?"
The words came through my fog from a police officer, kneeling beside me. I waved my hand to say, "I'm fine." I started to stand, and he helped guide me up by the elbow.
"We need to get you out of this area."
As my awareness returned, so did the sounds and colors, and the chaos. Police and firefighters, the sound of radio chatter, helicopters. I was embedded in the evening news.
The officer led me toward an area apparently being set up for the wounded. Was I hurt worse than I thought?
"Mystic River," the police officer said.
I looked at him with confusion.
"Good book," he added. "But you really should invest in the hardback. It's a sign of a fully committed person."
I looked down and saw I still had the novel I'd been reading in the café. My white knuckles told me I'd been clutching it like a life preserver. The note. Where was it? I fished in my pockets, but came up empty. I turned around and headed back to where I'd been lifted off the ground.
"Hold on, pardner. We can't have you going back there. Too dangerous."
"I lost someone," I said.
"You lost someone?"
"Something. I lost something. Please."
"Well, you're not going back to get it now."
With a powerful hand on my shoulder, he turned me around, walked me down the block to a concrete patch cordoned off by yellow tape, and set me on the ground with the others.
The cop's name was Danny Weller, and he was a chatterer. He told me about growing up in Oakland, and learning to fish in waders in the Sacramento River with his father. His dad, he said, was a fierce wordsmith, the outer casing of a union man covering a dictionary. Danny stayed nearby-my personal caseworker.
He kept my state of mind numb, but his friendly rambling didn't slow the background din of questions. Who would do such a thing? Did someone try to save my life? Was that person connected to Annie?
And what happened to everyone else in the café? How many hurt? How many dead? Those questions I asked aloud.
"We have three fatalities and a couple people in critical," Danny said. "Not as miraculous as it first appeared."
"What do you mean?" I looked at a half dozen people sitting on the street around me, nursing various wounds. Each was attended by police and emergency medical personnel. The idea that anyone survived seemed miraculous.
"The explosion was confined to one area of the café-it's not as bad as we first thought," Danny said. "At this point, we don't know if it was intentional or an industrial accident."
"You mean it might not have been a bomb?"
"What makes you think it was a bomb?" Danny looked at me intently, with curiosity but not accusation.
I took him in for the first time. I noticed hair and gut; he had a lot of both. I figured him at around forty-five years old. Worn, blue-collar hands, no wedding ring, but that didn't mean anything anymore. He had soft, droopy eyes that reminded me somehow of the black and chocolate-brown-colored glass polar bear eyes from the taxidermist's office where I interned the summer before my senior year in college.
Before I could get out an answer to Danny's question, a paramedic knelt beside me.
"He seems okay," Danny said. "He was outside when it happened."
"Let's have a look," the paramedic said, tilting my chin up so I could look him in the eye. "I'm going to ask you some basic questions. Indulge me. What's your name?"
"Nathaniel. Nathaniel Idle."
"Nat Idle," Danny the cop said. I'd told him my first name earlier, but not my last.
The paramedic and I turned our heads to look. Danny turned his eyes to the side, the way a bad poker player fails to mask emotion, and I can't say I was surprised.
A year earlier, when I was researching an article about the HIV epidemic faced by the city's immigrant prostitution rings, I'd come across a disturbing tip. Several officers assigned to crack down on the residential brothels were sampling the fare rather than bringing the violators to justice. One of the cops, upon learning he might have contracted HIV himself, beat a twenty-year-old Malaysian prostitute with the battle end of a flashlight. The cop-Timothy Aravelo-and two colleagues were convicted.
Publicly, a number of police officers lauded my efforts. It was politically correct to do so. Privately, they said I had exaggerated the problems of one bad cop and his own domestic dispute and turned it into a crusade. I was viewed as a member of the corner-cutting sensationalist media.
"No obvious broken bones, a laceration on the forehead, scrapes to knees, elbows, and hands. Consistent with a forceful fall," the paramedic said.
"You did the right thing," Danny said.
The paramedic thought Danny was talking to him. I knew what he really meant.
"Thanks," I said. "Danny, look, something's not right. Something is very strange, and-"
Danny cut me off. "We're doing preliminary interviews with everyone who was in the area. We like to get impressions while they're fresh. You're our next contestant."
He pulled me up by the hand and bent in close. "Ordinarily, Lieutenant Aravelo would ask you a few gentle questions and then give you a pat on the back. But you might get slightly rougher treatment."
Excerpted from Hooked by Matt Richtel Copyright © 2007 by Matt Richtel. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I was so hooked I couldn't put the book down until I had finished it! I can't wait for his next book to come out.
Hooked not only is an exciting read that I could not put down, but more telling of how much I enjoyed it were the lingering thoughts long after I finished reading the book. I found myself thinking and talking about the societal issues of people¿s reliance on technology in their daily life and wondering how real Richtel¿s description of this situation could be. This is a great book that is a must read for those not only in the technology industry, but also those who want to be up to speed on the latest political and societal problem that might soon face the world. You will find yourself hooked on discussing Hooked with your friends.
In a San Francisco Internet café, a woman leaves a folded note on the table of writer Nat Idle, who picks it up along with the book he was reading and follows her outside. As she drives away, he opens her note that reads ¿Get out of the café ¿ Now!¿. A nanosecond later an explosion rocks the café. ---- While everyone in the Marina District think terrorism, Nat thinks Annie as the handwriting is hers. Although she died four years ago when she was swept to sea from her sailboat, he recognizes his late girlfriend¿s handwriting on the note. HOOKED, as he never moved past Annie¿s death, Nat begins questioning those who lived. Meanwhile the house of one of those who survived, aspiring author Simon Anderson, catches fire, which increase Nat¿s theory of a conspiracy but the motive eludes him. He decides to visit Annie¿s family starting at their questionable business Strawberry Labs where they do a lucrative drug trade that he always wondered if it was legal. Like a bulldog he cannot let go even when attempts on his life occur. ---- Though the flashbacks to the relationship between Nat and Annie add depth of understanding to his personality, they intrude on a fascinating personal thriller of a man needing to know how his allegedly dead first love leaves him a note that saves his life. The story line is action-packed but owned by Nat¿s run as he seeks the truth that no one seems to want to let him have. Fans will appreciate Matt Richtel¿s exciting amateur sleuth thriller starring a seemingly everyman HOOKED with an obsession that propels him to continue in spite of the odds overwhelmingly that at worst he will die while at best he will know nothing. ---- Harriet Klausner
Nat Idle, a freelance journalist who decided after graduating from medical school that he was better suited for a career writing about versus practicing medicine, left the required resendency program and never looked back. The novel opens as Nat sits in a San Francisco Cafe, reading a book when a woman places a folded note on the edge of his table, then, without pause quickly exits the cafe. He picks up the note and attempts to follow the mysterious woman outside, only to catch a brief glimpse of her speeding away in a red Saab. He then reads the note¿.¿Get out of the cafe¿Now¿! It was much more than the words that grabbed Nat, it was the script - it was Annie¿s handwriting. Annie, his deceased girlfriend, for whom his heart still ached. How? His swirling thoughts are interrupted, as at that very moment the cafe explodes, knocking him off his feet.This single terrifying moment changes Nat¿s life once again, and launches the story into overdrive. Richtel takes the reader on a fast paced journey, full of relentless action and drama. With the added dimension of Jason Singer narrating, readers can easily visualize the sharply etched, strong characters Richtel created, especially the ruthless, clever and devilously ingenious Kendle family. The exact circumstances surrounding the loss of Annie aren¿t explained until later, which adds to the nail biting tension and myriad of questions that urge the reader on. Nat appears to be a hopeless romantic unable to bury the past and move forward. But this too will be revealed as yet another ingredient carefully woven into this meticulously designed high tech web of deceit.Hooked is absolutely the perfect title for this debut novel from Matt Richtel. Undoubtedly after this reading experience, there will be legions of fans hooked on Richtel¿s complex plots, endearing characters and strong delivery. Hooked will leave even the most astute suspense thriller fan in awe of Richtel¿s ability to weave the unimaginable into the very fabric of reality. You will never again surf the web or check email without a quick thought and then shake off the idea as ludicrous. But is it? Or¿ are we already, hooked?Happy Reading! RJ xx
My expectation for this book were high. On the back cover the author talks about it as an exploration of our addiction to computers, cell phones, and electronic devices.
After reading it, I can say this book is just a thriller, not even a brilliant one. Technology and the addiction to Internet and tech gadgets is not analyzed or even part of the plot, it's just a background. It seems a perfect script for a lightweight Hollywood movie.A perfect companion for a Sunday afternoon on the beach. No much more...
I was "hooked" on this book after the first chapter- Nat, a medical school graduate turned medical journalist receives a warning, a note dropped on his table at a cafe, to get out. When he does leave, the cafe explodes, killing several and wounding even more. Stranger still is the fact that the note dropped on his table is from his former girlfriend- who supposedly died several years before.Now, he's being watched by the police as a possible suspect in the bombing, along with another victim whom he befriends, but he becomes suspicious of her role in the explosion.Each chapter leaves you hanging, forcing you to start the next chapter to get answers, even when it's late at night, you have to work the next day, and the bed is calling.Although a compelling read, near last quarter of the book, the technology becomes somewhat implausible; hard to believe and incorporate into an otherwise good storyline. Perhaps I've read too many mysteries, but at the same point where the book lost its technological believability, I could see the ending as clear as straight shot down a darkened corridor with daylight shining through at the doorway. An "A" for Richtel for the effort, but a good story undone by the ultimate ending.
Ho -hum, a big mystery. Ho-hum another fire. Ho-hum boring characters. Ho-hum. Lots of secrets. Oh dear.things are not what they seem. Get it,right? It wasn't good At any level.
First off, the character development was POOR. I did not feel a connection to the key players. Next, the plot was very messy, as I felt slightly lost throughout the entire book. I feel as if some pieces of the plot were written in haste, while other parts were stagnant. I kept hoping for resolution and clarity; I was horribly let down. Additionally, I feel as if the conclusion was rushed. The answers to the reader's questions were never blatantly, fully answered. Due to the rough plot, the reader NEEDS resolution in the conclusion, and it never happened. Overall, the theme was fresh. I liked the creative ideas; however, I would recommend this to no one.
I was hooked after reading the first few pages. The book takes off at break-neck pace and never stops for a breath. I loved the way the author wove specific San Francisco/Silicon Valley details into this thriller.
This is a fast-paced and creative novel that breaks out of the predictable, by-the-numbers mode of the typical thriller. It is extremely visual and always keeps the reader off center until the ending. The suspense is palpable almost throughout. Matt Richtel is giving Chrichton a run for his money this summer. I look forward to further books by this author.