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Conspiracy.Com: A Novel [Mass Market Paperback]

R. J. Pineiro
4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

April 15 2002
Hunted by the top companies in America, Michael Patrick Ryan was offered the world: high starting salaries, stock options, and signing bonuses. Ryan set his sites on SoftCorp, Inc., a company with only one client-the Internal Revenue Service.

But Mike Ryan has also fallen into the sights of the FBI. Millions of dollars have been smuggled out of the country, and Karen Frost suspects it's someone in the IRS. The deal: federal protection and immunity for information. But Frost has already lost one informant. Someone who got too close to the truth. As Ryan closes in, he realizes that he is a puppet in a ring masterminded by one man. One man whose agenda is designed to bring America to its knees.

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It takes almost 300 pages for the Criminal Investigation Division of the Internal Revenue Service to get the bad guys in this tepid remake of The Firm, but when they finally do, it's enough to convince you that these wolves in accountants' clothing are the scariest guys in town. It would be better to pay taxes on every cent of your income than bring them down on you. Murder a bunch of innocent people? They'll hardly notice. But try to cheat the government by diverting IRS funds offshore and evading taxes on your ill-gotten gains? Now that's a crime! When SoftCorp hires Michael Ryan, fresh out of Stanford, and lures him to Austin with plenty of perks and promises of more to come, he has no idea that his boss and some higher-ups in the company's only client--the IRS--are lining their pockets with government wealth. But when a dogged FBI agent goes solo to tie Softcorp to the murder of one of her own and finds herself thwarted by higher-ups in her own agency, she partners with Michael and his wife to uncover the conspiracy and save the day. Of course, she has to call in the CID to do it, but by that time the reader has spent so much time in the virtual reality program Michael created to make catching tax cheats easier that it's all a blur of bytes and bits. R.J. Pineiro's real talent is for making complicated technology understandable, but that's not enough to turn this into a read for anyone who's not halfway there already. --Jane Adams --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A young high-tech exec and his banker wife join forces with a fortyish female FBI agent to take on a ruthless killer with powerful friends and a few high-tech tricks of his own in this cyberspeed thriller. After Mike Ryan completes his doctorate in virtual reality systems, Nasdaq biggies toss money, but an unknown Texas high-tech firm, SoftCorp (one of several nifty bits of wordplay that keep the lingo light), makes the best offer, not only assuring Mike's financial future but also coming up with a job for his wife, Victoria, with Capitol Bank, the firm handling SoftCorp's finances. The lure of money, house, car and unlimited research funding for Mike's work with SoftCorp's only client, the IRS, hook the pair, and they move from California to Austin. Meanwhile, FBI special agent Karen Frost, checking a tip on IRS agents gone bad, finds the mutilated remains of a missing field agent and links his fate to SoftCorp. But when the FBI director is murdered, Frost is left out in the cold, especially when the new man in charge swallows framed evidence that she has turned rogue. Frost uses the Web to contact Mike and Victoria just as they discover their dream home is bugged, and they agree to work with her. But then Victoria is kidnapped, and Frost is actively pursued by her former employers. Pineiro (Shutdown) writes with humor and flair and turns the high-tech field into an accessible playground for the uninitiated. The thrill of hacking and evading capture equates with the rush of dodging bullets as Pineiro manages a major translation of techie dreamworld into mainstream adrenaline rush. (Apr.)Forecast: Already an established name in techno-thrillers, computer engineer Pineiro is due an upgrade in reputation and perhaps sales with this entertaining story.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Ryan stepped inside one of the elevators in the lobby of the Fairmont Hotel in San Jose, California, and pressed the button for the tenth floor. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 1/2 stars July 20 2001
Format:Hardcover
I have to admit that what first grabbed be about this book while browsing through my favorite Houston bookstore was its cover artwork. So I picked it up right there and read through the prologue and first chapter and went straight to the cashier, finishing it two days later.
I'm a lover of thrillers and collect them in hardback. This one way exceeded my expectations. When I read a LeCarre or a DeMille, I pretty much know what to expect: top-notch fiction. Here I got that and much more, plus it was not expected.
So, on to the book. Enter Michael Patrick Ryan, Stanford University's top graduate in computer engineer, already in possession of job offers from all the big guys, plus married to a beautiful and talented woman, Victoria Ryan, also a Stanford graduate in finance. To cut to the chase, they get lured to Austin after SoftCorp, a little-known software company with a single client, the IRS, overwhelms him with a top salary, bonuses, stock options, a new car, plus a top-paying job at an Austin bank for Victoria. But all is not well at SoftCorp and its relationship with the IRS, where computer automation contracts with SoftCorp result in extraodinary amounts of money being funneled straight out of its coffers and into SoftCorp's accounts in the bank that Victoria is working at. From there it goes overseas to finance . . . well, I'm not going to steal the author's thunder.
Sounds familiar so far? Remember Mitch McDeere from Grisham's The Firm? Well, up to this point (just Chapter 1) it's just a well-written high-tech version of the legal thriller that made Grisham a household name. But then R.J.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding July 19 2001
Format:Hardcover
This is my first Pineiro book and it will certainly not be my last one. I picked it up after reading the great reviews it has received and I have to add my own to this growing list.
Think of this book as The Firm meets The Matrix. You have excellent and sympathetic characters like Stanford computer whiz Mike Ryan and FBI Agent Karen Frost, the heroes going up against a ruthless Cuban-American billionaire who has puppets everywhere, including one senator he plans to put in the White House next year. The book does start like the Grisham tale but quickly departs from it in a roller-coaster ride that takes you both through the unexpected twists and turns in both the real and cyber worlds. While Mike Ryan surfs the Internet using virtual-reality hardware reminiscent of The Matrix to fight against a well-hidden but powerful criminal empire in America, Karen Frost carries out her own battles against formidable foes in the real world. Together they form an alliance that takes them through enough excitement and nail-biting scenes to keep you turning pages at a furious pace, until . . . well, I'm not going to say. To make it even more interesting, the IRS is involved in more ways that the reader might be led to believe by just reading the book jacket.
If you want to read a thriller that's impossible to put down, you want to read this one. In fact, buy two and give one to a friend.
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Format:Hardcover
Warning -- this review contains plot spoilers, so if you intend to read this piece of pulp, do not read the indicated two paragraphs.
It is fairly clear to me that this author had copies of "the firm" by John Grisham and "Snow Crash" by Neal Stephenson right beside him for various parts of this purported "thriller" as well as some derivative work from the realm of "V.I. Warshawski".
Thankfully, I checked this book out of the library, so I did not waste any hard-earned $$ or further line the pockets of this "author". The plot revolves around a brilliant young computer programmer who races thru undergrad, a masters, and apparently a PhD (although this is unclear) in near record time from Stanford. Despite this young man's intelligence, he lacks enough common sense to see that the offer he has received from the software firm recruiting him is clearly too good to be true (a'la "The Firm").
This brilliant young genious has developed a Virtual Reality simulation for surfing the internet and supporting private and public networks. This system revolves around the use of virtual "planets" with building like nodes of information from various sources (see "Snow Crash" for a better description). Using his nifty system he is able to penetrate the deep dark secret of the company he works for and determine the inner workings of, among others, the IRS.
******Spoiler Alert********
Add to this the proliferation of supporting characters so two-dimensional that they are virtually invisible when turned sideways.
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4.0 out of 5 stars High-Speed Cyber Thriller... June 24 2001
Format:Hardcover
Stanford honors graduate and computer engineer "extraordinaire" Michael Ryan is being courted by every big name high-tech company imaginable, including MicroSoft and Oracle. However, like Grisham's protagonist in _The Firm_, Michael gives in to the promise of a bright and very lucrative financial future with an unknown company, this one named SoftCorp, whose only client is the Internal Revenue Service. What Michael doesn't know (but we all easily deduct) is that SoftCorp has some serious skeletons in the closet, and will go to any lengths to protect their company's secrets. SoftCorp is also the focus of a botched FBI investigation in which one agent and one informant have already been killed. When Karen Frost, the current special agent in charge, approaches Michael and his wife Victoria about helping with the investigation, they all become disposable pawns in a deadly game of hide and seek masterminded by one corrupt individual. Pretty soon people with powerful political agendas, (and corporate executives who were puppets to these agendas) start to die, leaving Michael to use his expert computer programming skills, and a little ingenuity, if he is to keep himself and Victoria alive.
This book is a cyber thriller/political intrigue mix. Through his protagonist R.J Pineiro introduces us to the high-tech world of virtual reality programming and back door politics, without drowning us in a heap of technical jargon. He also shows how vulnerable our economy is to the advances taking place in technology. What makes this story line work so well is the high tech solutions used to wither away from the constant threat of danger, and the unrelenting pace and suspense built in by the author. Pineiro really knows how to keep his readers on the edge of their seats...
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Austin & Computers & Conspiracy U will love it
... U love computers and programming
U love Austin
U love mystery with big ... twist
this is story for u
There are not many books I read that I out and out... Read more
Published on July 13 2002
3.0 out of 5 stars Preposterous and Gripping Thrillerh
This book proves that a good writer can take a ridiculous idea and make it into a preposterously unbelievable story that grips you so completely that you stay up most of the night... Read more
Published on July 9 2002 by Ray M. Bayles
5.0 out of 5 stars A Thrilling Pageturner!
This is another good book from one of the most exciting authors in the world today.R.J. Pineiro has used his knowledge of the computor world to create another thriller. Read more
Published on May 23 2002 by Melvin Hunt
5.0 out of 5 stars The Firm meets The Matrix in a book that deserves six stars
What a terrific read. I devour thrillers of all kinds, legal, high-tech, military, medical, etc, and this one ranks among the best of Ludlum, DeMille, and Morrell. Read more
Published on July 18 2001
4.0 out of 5 stars Author of $oft Money Recomeends this....
This is the first Pineiro book I have read. Now I will have to go back and read his other work. This books title is what caught my eye, with two elements I love, conspiracy and... Read more
Published on May 20 2001 by Eric L. Burton
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2 stars
See story summary above.
R.J. Pineiro comes through again with another hi-tech thriller. The action blends smoothly with the techno-babble in this outstanding adventure... Read more
Published on May 2 2001 by Konrad Kern
5.0 out of 5 stars A chilling thriller
Stanford graduates Michael and Victoria Ryan can testify that college is quite expensive as the couple realizes that they are buried in debt. Read more
Published on March 21 2001 by Harriet Klausner
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