Pierce is a chemist, working in the emerging field of nanotechnology. His relationship breaks down and he has to move out of their shared home and into a new apartment, which leads him to have new telephone number and address cards printed. Almost immediately he starts to receive calls from men asking for Lilly, Pierce is intrigued and quizzes one of the men, asking where he got this telephone number, which leads him to an escort web site.
Pierce finds out that Lilly has been missing for a couple of weeks and that a private eye hired by her mother has had no success in tracing her. Pierce starts to try to find her himself, working from the internet offices to the woman's home, speaking to another female escort who worked with Lilly and finding that there is a sleazy network behind the web escort service that both women worked for.
Poor Pierce cannot leave this alone, ignoring work commitments is not something he has ever done but now he finds himself looking into the woman on the internet. In tracing her he breaks one or two laws, and when he does find what could be evidence that a dire fate has befallen her, he has to lie to the police to cover up what he has done and deflect any attention from himself.
The policeman who takes over the investigation is thorough, and careful, seriously worrying Pierce that he will be caught in a lie and that the policeman will think that he has murdered the woman. It is here that the story falls down a bit. The policeman, Renner, is looking at Pierce as the best suspect in a case with no body, Pierce knows where the body is and has been beaten up by someone in an attempt to persuade him to leave the matter alone, but then the realisation comes that he is being framed and there could be only one way out, which is not the direction he wishes to take.
The ending is a let down. With only a few pages to go, and no end in sight, there it is! All of a sudden, the ending just pops out, leaving me with questions like how about this and that. It just ruined all the suspense that had been built up about how Pierce was going to get out of this very elaborate set-up.
This report prepared by eyal
When brilliant but naive scientist Henry Pierce leaves his girlfriend and moves into a new apartment, he keeps getting calls on his new phone for a woman called Lilly. But who is Lilly? From the nature of the calls, Henry deduces that she is an 'escort', who seems to have disappeared, and may be in trouble. Henry cannot resist helping a woman in trouble, although he soon finds himself caught in a web of crime and deception which could endanger his project, one which may change the world.
This report prepared by Stephen Coombs
Little, Brown, Oct 2002, 25.95, 371 pp.
Henry Pierce obtains a new phone number that the scientist quickly sends out to his business contacts and scientific peers. However, he soon receives calls from individuals asking for Lilly and her escort service. He concludes that Lilly is a high priced call girl peddling her wares through her number placed in cyberspace except those phone digits now belong to Henry.
From his molecular research work, Henry is used to doing things so he seeks out Lilly to get her to remove the number from her homepage. However, Lilly apparently has vanished, which reminds Henry of his sister who turned hooker before being murdered. Unable to resist, Henry begins a search for Lilly that leads to the police and some nasty individuals chasing after him. As he applies deductive and inductive reasoning to his situation, Henry realizes his paranoia proves valid not to trust anyone.
Hitchcock fans will enjoy this contemporary updating of the classic North by Northwest due to the action and clever twists and turns. Henry makes a wonderful Roger Thornhill as he struggles with the truth that never seems to be out there. Readers will briefly wonder why a brilliantly logical person like Henry failed to just obtain a new number even if he knows it's a pain to inform his associates of the change and feels guilty over his sister's death. Still, fans will gloss over that as the delightful thriller stars an intelligent nerd landing in one predicament after another using sound reasoning to stay alive for the moment.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner