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Formats
Ebook Details
  • 10/2020
  • 978-0-578-70682-5 B07VLWDD5T
  • 471 pages
  • $4.99
Audio Details
  • 10/2020
  • B08R127MW1
  • 469 pages
  • $21.83
Paperback Details
  • 10/2020
  • 978-0-578-70682-5 0578706822
  • 469 pages
  • $14.99
Mark Henry
Author
Lacking Evidence to the Contrary: A Lowbrow Novel of Questionable Necessity
In the thin slice of time between the present day and the dystopian future we've been reading so much about, Chris Dawkins, a young man of uncertain everything, finds himself in the FBI's crosshairs when he accidentally signs the online Terms and Conditions to join an Islamic extremist group. (And I suppose YOU read all the fine print?) With the help of his billionaire boss Jasper Wiles and badass attorney Biz Byner, Chris must thread a narrow path to freedom, squeezing through the colliding worlds of law enforcement, the news media, Silicon Valley, entrepreneurial jihadists, teenage dark web nuclear arms dealers, rogue military officers, street hustlers and side hustlers, living their own truths all. One part thriller, one part action-adventure, one part buddy comedy and nine parts social and political satire, Lacking Evidence to the Contrary slices, dices and serves up overflowing portions the contradictions and absurdities of a world where nothing is as it seems.
Reviews
Kirkus Reviews

A clueless IT worker gets falsely arrested for domestic terrorism in this satirical comedy.

Chris Dawkins is a content developer for Sixdub, a successful tech company in Silicon Valley. His mundane job largely consists of scouring the internet for copyright-free video—once found, his company replaces the original audio with “random, computer-generated rap lyrics.” While doing this, he thoughtlessly likes a video recorded in a language he cannot understand that turns out to be terrorist propaganda disseminated by the Militant Islamic Liberation Front, an organization based in fictional Zazaristan, where “goatfighting is a sport of gentlemen.” Problematically for Chris, FBI Director Dick Barry is aggressively pushing for showy counterterrorism victories and tasks his agents Stanley Murphy and Francis Sullivan—the only two members of the Boomer Sooner task force, which searches cyberspace for evidence of terrorism—with producing one. Barry communicates his order in the kind of zany vaudevillian humor that permeates Henry’s book: “What concerns me the most are the enemies that we don’t know that we don’t know about. Right now, somewhere out there, someone may be sneaking up on America with a knife. I want you to find this person or persons and shoot them in the face.” The agents discover Chris’ tenuous and unwitting connection to MILF. A judge then orders his house arrest for conspiracy to commit a terrorist act. But Chris’ employer, Jasper Wiles, decides the only way for the IT worker to clear his name is to stealthily head to Zazaristan, the home of the man in charge of MILF, Wahiri Shwarma, known as Mohammad Mohammad.

The author astutely satirizes the absurd hypocrisy often involved in the prosecution of supposed terrorists. Shwarma has actually abandoned any real terrorist aspirations after discovering it’s far cheaper to take credit for random disasters in the Western world, an example of Henry at his comedic best. While in Zazaristan, Chris meets Fareek Wazaan, his IT equivalent working for MILF, who’s about as interested in terrorism as Chris is, a memorable juxtaposition. The entire novel is written as a farce in the spirit of Joseph Heller’s work—Henry even includes silly “Study Questions” at the book’s end: “What would you say is the smoking age in Zazaristan?” Unfortunately, he attempts, often with laborious effort, to squeeze a punchline into nearly every sentence, a comic relentlessness that finally becomes tediously exhausting. In addition, one can’t expect all those jokes to smoothly land, and often the author settles for unspectacular slapstick. For example, after drinking a tea laced with some kind of drug while in Zazaristan, Chris suspects he’s endowed with magical powers: “Hold on, that’s ridiculous. There’s no such thing as magic. Superpowers. Yes, of course. Superpowers. Let me see if I can hovertate. Is that a word? Hovertate? Hoverlate? Leverate? Leverate. That’s it. Leverate.

A lively deluge of madcap humor, sometimes more silly than genuinely funny.

Formats
Ebook Details
  • 10/2020
  • 978-0-578-70682-5 B07VLWDD5T
  • 471 pages
  • $4.99
Audio Details
  • 10/2020
  • B08R127MW1
  • 469 pages
  • $21.83
Paperback Details
  • 10/2020
  • 978-0-578-70682-5 0578706822
  • 469 pages
  • $14.99

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