Skinner

Skinner

2.6 3
by Charlie Huston
     
 

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Skinner founded his career in "asset protection" on fear. To touch anyone under his protection was to invite destruction. A savagely effective methodology, until Skinner's CIA handlers began to fear him as much as his enemies did and banished him to the hinterlands of the intelligence community.

Now, an ornate and evolving cyber-terrorist attack is about to end

Overview

Skinner founded his career in "asset protection" on fear. To touch anyone under his protection was to invite destruction. A savagely effective methodology, until Skinner's CIA handlers began to fear him as much as his enemies did and banished him to the hinterlands of the intelligence community.

Now, an ornate and evolving cyber-terrorist attack is about to end that long exile. His asset is Jae, a roboticist with a gift for seeing the underlying systems violently shaping a new era of global guerrilla warfare.

At the root of it all is a young boy, the innocent seed of a plot grown in the slums of Mumbai. Brought to flower, that plot will tip the balance of world power in a perilous new direction.

A combination of Le Carre spycraft with Stephenson techno-philosophy from the novelist hailed by the Washington Post as "the voice of twenty-first century crime fiction," SKINNER is Charlie Huston's masterpiece—a new kind of thriller for a new kind of world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Skinner, the hero of this exceptionally smart thriller from Huston (Sleepless), gets his name from having been raised for the first 12 years of his life inside a Skinner box—a chamber devised by 20th-century psychologist B.F. Skinner to conduct behavioral psychology experiments on animals. A former CIA agent whose early isolation has made him particularly suited to the trade of killing, Skinner is now a highly paid security technician who specializes in guarding clients, known as “assets.” One such asset is Jae, a genius analyst who likes to spend her time wandering an unnamed desert taking drugs and building tiny robots. The mysterious Terrence, who used to run the security firm Kestrel Dynamics, has worked up a solo operation for Skinner and Jae, which eventually leads them to a momentous discovery in the streets of Dharavi, a slum in the city of Bombay. Stunningly original characters, wildly surprising twists, and an ending that’s both unexpected and moving make this an extraordinary genre stand-alone. This is the sort of book you want to reread just to see how the trick was done. Agent: Simon Lipskar, Writers House. (July)
From the Publisher
"A thriller for the Edward Snowden Summer . . . Mr. Huston is renowned for making the fantastic believable."—Wall Street Journal"

Skinner is of the moment. . . . While Skinner has its share of bone-crunching fight scenes, Huston channeled [his] anger into a book with a highly complex picture of how people live at opposite ends of the economic spectrum."—Los Angeles Times"

Its fluency with both the world of spies and of high technology, like Olen Steinhauer by way of William Gibson, makes it a gripping read, [and] the humanity Skinner finds in himself is genuinely touching."—USA Today"

Fun and inventive . . . An espionage thriller for the information age with echoes of John Le Carre and William Gibson."—CNN.com"

Skinner is an up-to-the-second thriller, combining big ideas, gouts of blood and a fascinating mix of damaged characters."—Cleveland Plain Dealer

Playboy
"Charlie Huston writes crime fiction for a new century but does so in the tradition of the masters. Skinner specializes in 'asset protection' and his skills are tested here to their fullest."
The Tampa Bax Examiner (Top Five Summer Must-Reads Pick)
"SKINNER could easily be credible as pages ripped from the latest newspaper headlines....This book will leave you breathless."
Wall Street Journal
"A thriller for the Edward Snowden Summer . . . Mr. Huston is renowned for making the fantastic believable."
Los Angeles Times
"Skinner is of the moment. . . . While Skinner has its share of bone-crunching fight scenes, Huston channeled [his] anger into a book with a highly complex picture of how people live at opposite ends of the economic spectrum."
USA Today
"Its fluency with both the world of spies and of high technology, like Olen Steinhauer by way of William Gibson, makes it a gripping read, [and] the humanity Skinner finds in himself is genuinely touching."
Cleveland Plain Dealer
"Skinner is an up-to-the-second thriller, combining big ideas, gouts of blood and a fascinating mix of damaged characters."
Portland Mercury
"Charlie Huston's excellent new thriller [feels] two steps ahead of the present moment even as it encapsulates everything that's freaked us out in the last decade. . . . Skinner doesn't just borrow from the headlines—it critiques them, in the service of a well-plotted and ultimately character-driven story. It's a hell of a book."
CNN.com
"Fun and inventive . . . An espionage thriller for the information age with echoes of John Le Carre and William Gibson."
Library Journal
Huston’s (Sleepless; The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death) new stand-alone thriller is scary in its timeliness. Skinner is a hired gun whose sole job is to protect his “asset.” His maxim is “the only true way to secure an asset is to ensure that the cost of acquiring it is greater than its value,” and he is willing to die for it. His current assignment is Jae, a young robotocist who can see the patterns in anything and everything. She once worked for Kestrel, a private contracting firm, but left when she was betrayed. Now she’s been asked by her former handler, Terrence, to take on a new assignment from Kestrel. Along with the assignment comes Skinner. A man who will do anything—and already has—to get the job done.

Verdict To say much more about the plot would ruin it for readers. In order to enjoy the suspense, Huston’s careful layering of the story should be read without much foreknowledge. Suffice it to say, the recent revelations about data mining are just the tip of the iceberg in terms of what is going on in the world of spying. Add in missing nukes, hacking, drones, terrorists, and a host of other threats, and readers may come away from this novel a bit more paranoid: it’s all just too plausible. This is a must for fans of John le Carré and Olen Steinhauer.—Jane Jorgenson, Madison P.L., WI
(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Reviews
A cyberterrorist attack against America looms in this grim, hard-edged thriller from Edgar Award–nominated author Huston. The scenario at the core of this latest from Huston is time-honored: A plot is afoot that may bring down the U.S. But Huston brings his end-of-the-world cliffhanger solidly into the 21st century by centering it on cyberterrorism. It seems that culprits lurking in the Ukraine are plotting to disable the U.S. computer grid. Missile launching systems have also been sighted in the vicinity, and already they've possibly done a test run that blacked out parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania and took five lives. An independent security agency contends that only a woman named Jae can ferret out what's afoot. She's their "asset," and they'll put her in motion only with an "asset protector." Enter Skinner, whose maxim is, "The only way to secure an asset is to ensure that the cost of acquiring it is greater [than] its value." The two are off to Europe in a pursuit suffused with treachery, violence and double cross. While much of what follows is essentially drawn from the le Carré playbook, Huston kicks it up a step with characters whose hearts of concrete make Smiley and Company look like sob sisters. Skinner's demented parents kept him in a box for the first 12 years of his life, breeding a killer. Jae is a crack roboticist who is often high on amphetamines and psychedelics. Realizing Skinner may be falling for her, she bolts herself in a bathroom stall and screams obscenities. Meanwhile, in contrast, intervening chapters are suffused with warmth (and some of Huston's better writing) as they follow a young Mumbai boy and his family, whose activities eventually intersect with Jae and Skinner's as the doomsday clock ticks away. Huston indeed evokes a bleak, apocalyptic world, but the book is slowly paced and weighted down by a prolix, elliptical style. A tale that may enthrall technogeeks while sending their elders scrambling through Hacking for Dummies.
Washington Post
"Among the new voices in twenty-first-century crime fiction, Charlie Huston is where it's at.
New York Times Book Review
"Huston writes dialogue so combustible it could fuel a bus and characters crazy enough to take it on the road."
Booklist (starred review)
"Mind-bendingly original, from the characters, to the dialogue, to the sensory-overloaded world. A tour-de-force. Add Huston to the A-list."
Stephen King
PRAISE FOR CHARLIE HUSTON:

"Anyone not acquainted with Charlie Huston's blistering, unputdownable novels will want to tie their sneakers nice and tight, or they are apt to be blasted clean out of them."

USA TODAY
"Its fluency with both the world of spies and of high technology, like Olen Steinhauer by way of William Gibson, makes it a gripping read, [and] the humanity Skinner finds in himself is genuinely touching."
Cleveland Plain-Dealer
"Skinner is an up-to-the-second thriller, combining big ideas, gouts of blood and a fascinating mix of damaged characters."

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780316133722
Publisher:
Little, Brown and Company
Publication date:
07/09/2013
Pages:
389
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.40(d)

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Meet the Author

Charlie Huston is the author of Sleepless, the bestsellers The Mystic Arts of Erasing All Signs of Death and The Shotgun Rule, the Henry Thompson trilogy, the Joe Pitt casebooks, and several titles for Marvel Comics. He lives with his family in Los Angeles.

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Skinner 2.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
tedfeit0 More than 1 year ago
How can a simple plot grow so complex? The idea behind “Skinner” is interesting and relatively uncomplicated: the possible threat from a Mumbai slum to world order, and a pair of investigators seeking to learn more about it. One of the investigators is a woman, Jae, who builds and controls robots and has a gift for seeing underlying relationships. The other is Skinner, who specializes in protecting assets (and whose maxim is to make it too costly to attack the person he is guarding by killing the attacker and then anyone else involved in planning the assault). However, the story is obfuscated by all sorts of characters and side issues that can weary the reader. The initial chapters are slow reading, and the following pages are just a bit less ponderous.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
SOGAARD More than 1 year ago
Fun read. Once I started I couldn't put it down. The writing style is like nothing I have read before.