Together with Douglas Preston Lincoln Child wrote a couple of books, among them “Relic” a Jurassic-Park-like, but even more sinister thriller, which, I must confess, I didnīt have the nerve to read through. So, when coming across a thriller by Child without his partner, I had my reservations. But they were not at all justified, quite the contrary. Child writes in a very readable, sometimes even elegant style and has a truly breathtaking story to tell.
His hero is Christopher Lash, a psychologist, who used to work for the FBI. His wife left him some years ago and he still does a lot of grieving, befitting for a psychologist, who is supposed to help people with similar personal problems. Anyway, Mauchly, a high-ranking executive of Eden Encorporated, a very successful matchmaking company, approaches him and seeks his advice. One of their super-couples has been found dead and the company wants to find out why they have committed suicide, although, being Edens super-couple, they were the perfect match and perfectly happy. Shortly after, a second super-couple meets the same end, not exactly a publicity boost for Edenīs matchmaking record. Lash has pulled a few strings with his medical colleagues and former FBI people and now is admitted inside Eden by its founder and supermind Richard Silver, although the company has an almost paranoid security system, controlled by Tara, a young computer scientist.
To understand the matching system, which is mainly done by their computer, Lash puts himself to all the tests a potential candidate has to go through and is devastated, when rejected for the matching process. At the same time, his credit cards turn out to be invalid, he gets mysterious phone calls and when he wants to take some computer printouts home from his Eden office, he is arrested by security men and accused by Mauchly to be the murderer they have been looking for. He manages to hide inside the data conduits, which would make a gripping film scene. With Taraīs reluctant help he finds out, that Silver is more involved in the crime than he cares to admit. He resides on the top floor of the Eden building, together with Liza, his super computer. Child takes great pains in describing this office tower and computer system at its top in loving detail. And he must be a computer freak (nerd?). But although I donīt in the least grasp the fine print, the finale makes fascinating if creepy reading. So “Utopia”, Childīs first novel on his own, is a “must”.