Fresh from his experience as a co-creator of the online hit City of Heroes, author Rick Dakan takes his knowledge of the video game industry and California counterculture and twists it into an elaborate revenge fantasy fueled by gen-x con-men; Lovable con men and women in the tradition of The Sting and Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.
Peopled with tech-heads, hippies and comic-book artists, Dakan's Mis-en-Scene is a fascinating fringe full of pop-culture infused societal dropouts who scatter like subversive cockroaches when he shines the light on them. But even more fascinating is that the author seems ready to crawl into the walls with them. He doesn't just romanticize their renegade guerilla lifestyle. He practically enshrines it.
Unapologetically liberal, Dakan finds time to get his digs in on the other side, glossing over the fact that con-men are, by definition, more ruthlessly capitalistic than even Republicans. Whether putting his politico in the mouths of criminals advances his cause is questionable. Whether it advances his story I leave to the reader. But if you're squeamish about broad, acerbic partisanism, be forewarned.
That aside, Dakan proves he can spin a thriller with the best of them, winning us over to his side, at least for the duration of the book. He doesn't shy away from the danger, ruthlessness, and often pettiness of his beloved cut-throat anarchy, and the series of capers, chases, fights and betrayals that ensue are hard-boiled enough to entertain any reader, regardless of their political stripe. And while they would perhaps be unlikable if brought to life, on paper Dakan's characters are charming enough to make an admirable addition to any collection of fictional friends. The sentiments may sometimes be divisive, but the storytelling never is, suggesting that nothing unites Americans like a good fiction.