When a mysterious spam email lands in his in-box, Denovo already is a world-famous detective, known for his aura of invincibility and A-list clients. What’s hidden in the email sets in motion his newest case – of technological wizardry, Fabergé eggs, defense secrets, and rhyming couplets. Attempting to thwart a crime not-yet-committed and elude its mysterious perpetrator, Johnny and his cohorts ricochet from the familiar haunts of their Boston home turf to a Virginia horse farm to the narrow streets of Montpellier, France, culminating in a dangerous cat-and-mouse game.
Trained as a neuroscientist, Johnny has mastered a theory of the mind that underlies his crime-solving techniques. The human mind leaves patterns, Johnny knows. Through discipline of his own thinking and sensory awareness, he perceives patterns others do not. From cracking codes to discerning motives, Denovo moves through the world highly attuned to what is fundamental, but not always obvious.
Johnny’s circle includes Tucker Thiesen, technologist extraordinaire and childhood friend, a freelance surveillance operative with tentacles into worldwide security. Floors below Johnny’s luxury condo is restaurateur Wei Chou, his personal chef and plant-waterer, whose talents don’t stop with a sublime crispy orange beef. And then there is Mona Landau, Johnny’s hot and haughty business agent – the rare human who can melt his studied cool.
But the metaphor-loving Johnny has mysteries of his own. And beneath the Denovo mystique and attitude, Johnny is constantly honing his image to match the world’s expectations. If smart is the new cool, Johnny is an iceberg – studied calm and nerves of steel, with the self-consciousness and laser-like mind of a scientist beneath.
This time, though, even Johnny cannot discern who is seeking his services as he gets ensnared in a cryptic cybernetwork, evades the loveliest of would-be assassins, and bends a few rules to peer inside the fabled bejeweled eggs for secrets they might hold.
Denovo’s quest is a suspenseful and literate romp through the patterns of mind and matter. By the time Spam & Eggs“resolves with delightful surprises and a satisfying soufflé of an ending,” as one reviewer put it, you will be looking at the world a bit more as Johnny does.
Cryptic e-mail messages set in motion Johnny Denovo's newest case, "Spam & Eggs." Already world famous and known for his technological wizardry Denovo is challenged by these "spam" messages with, riddles, secret codes, perplexing phrases, suggestive metaphors and rhyming couplets with a double-substitution scheme. Phrases like "Faberge eggs," which allude to the theft of rare and priceless objects, and the heist of defense secrets. Johnny soon detects that something even more ominous and threatening is gathering force in a geopolitical plot which is ready to blow up.
As an expert neuroscientist, Johnny mastered a theory of the mind that now underlies his crime-solving processes. Johnny is determined to break the code and put a stop to the yet-to-be committed crime, determine the underlying motive, and expose the puzzling perpetrator.
In a dangerous attempt to solve the case, Johnny with Mona, his auburn haired agent, leave their home turf in Boston to explore a horse farm in Virginia to stopover in Paris before the final destination, the bustling city of Montpellier, France, on the Mediterranean. Their goal is to find a resolution to the mysterious crime of "Spam & Eggs" and to expose a team of power-mad weirdoes.
Andrew Kent has created a cast of colorful characters including: John A. Novarro, the genius behind the newly created Denovo persona, mystique, and his detective motif; Tucker the Techno-geek; Wei Chou, the Chinese Cook; FBI Agent Ross, with his standard issue countenance; Mona Landau, the sultry serpent queen, his agent; and defense contractor Jim Winthrop.
Kent develops background material to introduce his intriguing and sinister plot. He is as comfortable and credibly knowledgeable when describing background on a horse ranch in Virginia, as when detailing technical and communications infra-structure, or affirming the amenities of Montpellier, France.
I enjoyed Andrew's word artistry. He uses phrases like: "an atmosphere that cultivated thoughtfulness," and lengthy sentences describing metaphors, such as: "Johnny turned over the metaphors of the case - spam, eggs, horses, inside, outside, chicken, center and the like. Metaphors were how the limbic brain expressed itself, synthesizing complex, even unrecognized inputs and feelings into a representative package sufficiently distinctive and rich in form to be emblematic."
Andrew Kent has a brilliant command of language and is a clever word-weaver. He incorporates sophisticated vocabulary, clever word play, tongue-in-cheek realism, and soliloquies with brisk dialog to create a masterpiece of deductive challenge, engrossing reading, and engaging entertainment in "Spam & Eggs: A Johnny Denovo Mystery."
RebeccasReads.com -- An Intellectual Mystery
Reviewed by Kam Aures for RebeccasReads (3/09)
"Spam & Eggs" begins with world-famous detective Johnny Denovo sitting at his computer sorting through his many emails. He comes across a spam message that was not caught by his spam filter. Unsure of what draws him to it, he decides to open it. "The message looked like the majority of spam e-mails he typically received. It was quite short. Yet something had caused his eyes to hover longer than normal over the nonsensical text, and after a moment, it began to emerge. There seemed to be a subtle rhythm to it, a kind of abstract moiré pattern developing across his neurotransmitters as he peered at the scrambled letters." (p.10) Once he deciphers the code, he finds a message referring to chickens and France. Intrigued by the hidden riddle, Denovo starts to search for more and decides to put himself on the case of solving this mystery, even though he is not commissioned by a client.
The title of the book, "Spam & Eggs," is so wonderfully appropriate for the writing that follows. The text is filled with metaphors and word plays that will stimulate your mind. Even the titles of all thirty-five of the chapters are in some way related to an egg, such as "Rotten," "Caviar," "Scrambled," and "Benedict." Although the novel is fiction, the premise of messages being hidden in spam emails is something that could truly happen. In fact, I think that the reader will begin to think about spam in a whole new way. I especially enjoyed when Denovo was contemplating why spam emails have survived when they don't really work. One of his theories was that it is the corporations that sell spam protection programs who are creating the spam emails so that their businesses would survive. Who knows, this idea could very well be true!
Andrew Kent's book is very fast paced and contains a cast of well-developed characters. The plot is unique, as is the writing style. This book is different from any other that I have read. "Spam & Eggs" is a clever, intellectual mystery that will leave you wanting more of Johnny Denovo in the future. I look forward to many more intriguing cases!