ARC Review: Techno Thriller

Red Team Blues by Cory Doctorow

Publication Date: April 25, 2023

Summary from NetGalley:

Martin Hench is 67 years old, single, and successful in a career stretching back to the beginnings of Silicon Valley. He lives and roams California in a very comfortable fully-furnished touring bus, The Unsalted Hash, that he bought years ago from a fading rock star. He knows his way around good food and fine drink. He likes intelligent women, and they like him back often enough.

Martin is a—contain your excitement—self-employed forensic accountant, a veteran of the long guerilla war between people who want to hide money, and people who want to find it. He knows computer hardware and software alike, including the ins and outs of high-end databases and the kinds of spreadsheets that are designed to conceal rather than reveal. He’s as comfortable with social media as people a quarter his age, and he’s a world-level expert on the kind of international money-laundering and shell-company chicanery used by Fortune 500 companies, mid-divorce billionaires, and international drug gangs alike. He also knows the Valley like the back of his hand, all the secret histories of charismatic company founders and Sand Hill Road VCs. Because he was there at all the beginnings. He’s not famous, except to the people who matter. He’s made some pretty powerful people happy in his time, and he’s been paid pretty well. It’s been a good life.

Now he’s been roped into a job that’s more dangerous than anything he’s ever agreed to before—and it will take every ounce of his skill to get out alive.

ARC provided by Tor Books via NetGalley for an honest review.


This was a fun and for the most part a light read. The beginning was a bit hard for me as there was a lot of techno speak that I really didn’t understand, but once I got past that part I really got into the characters and the plot and ended up enjoying myself.

I really enjoyed Martin Hench. He is a young 67, and obviously someone who took care of himself. And though he really wants to just sit back and relax he can’t say no to a friend who finds himself in a jam. I also liked how smart he is and how he knows his limits as well. He has a tough job, but he is a bit of a superhero, working to bring uber rich criminals to justice through accounting. It was also nice to see him having a well rounded personal life with friends, especially the women.

I didn’t fully understand exactly what was stolen, it has something to do with security and cryptocurrency, but that didn’t diminish the plot at all. Cory Doctorow does a great job of writing the technology parts of his story so that lay people can still understand it and enjoy the story. There is of course some social discourse in this story, how the rich stay rich and the poorer just keep getting poorer. There is a small part of the story where Martin has to live on the street with the homeless and I felt that it was handled sensitively while keeping the social commentary relevant.

The story is fairly fast paced while Martin is trying to find the stolen property, which happens fairly quickly. But then it really picks up once the consequences of what went down gets Martin in a whole heap of trouble. But Martin is smart and he figures his way out of some tight spots, despite the government getting involved.

This looks like it is the first in a series, and I certainly hope it is. I loved Martin and reading about his shenanigans was a really fun time. Fans of Cory Doctorow will certainly enjoy this and hopefully it will find its way into new fans as well.

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