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    Review of CLICK HERE FOR MURDER by Donna Andrews (see her website)

    Berkley Prime Crime, 2003

    When one of her staff members is killed, artificial intelligence personality Turing Hopper suspects that she may also be a target. The only clues are the role-playing game that the victim spent so much time playing, and his strange lack of a true identity. Turing assigned her two friends to find out more about the game and more about what Ray Santiago did before he became Ray Santiago and joined her company. What she doesn't expect is that she'll be sending her friends into danger--or that Santiago's killers just might be a threat for a bright artificial intelligence--like her.

    Author Donna Andrews (see more reviews of novels by Andrews) does an excellent job making computer crime approachable, using non-technical language and humanizing her computer-program protagonist (as well as providing a couple of very human sidekicks). Turing's concerns about turning into HAL (from 2001) and worries about following the law and respecting privacy add to reader safety. The role-playing game that Andrews describes is also believable, even as it spills out from the computer into the real-world of Washington D.C. Andrews is a skilled writer and provides a page-turning thrill-ride.

    Although I liked Turing (despite her occasional descents into self-appraisal, I found sidekick Maude a little harder to like. Her moonlighting for Turing's company sounded unethical to me. Worse, she didn't seem to hesitate to shoot to kill, even when she wasn't fully aware of the situation. Nor did she seem to suffer any ethical consequences after she'd actually killed. The hints at the use of games for pedophilia also struck an incongruous note. Although this was an important justification for Santiago's initial involvement, Andrews should either have made this a bigger element or left it out.

    CLICK HERE FOR MURDER isn't a perfect story, but it is a well written and entertaining adventure. The use of an artificial intelligence character creates an enjoyable alternate spin to the usual mystery novel and Andrews develops this story line convincingly, in a way that will be enjoyable both to computer professionals and to those who remain a bit concerned about the role of computers in our lives.

    Three Stars

    Reviewed 7/12/03

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