Bar sinister

According to legend, some Microsoft employees who’d reached the point when their stock options could be exercised supposedly wore a button reading “FYIFV,” the last three letters meaning “I’m Fully Vested.”

Brian J. Noggle’s John Donnelly’s Gold (Brookline, MO: Jeracor Group, 2011) is the story of four employees at a St. Louis Internet startup who were unceremoniously squeezed out of the company before they’d reached that presumably-happy status, and who were sufficiently irritated by this action to vow revenge upon the newly-arrived Chief Executive Officer.

Fortunately, John Donnelly had an ego bigger than his CEO salary: he’d gone so far as to buy a bar of gold bullion and train a webcam on it 24/7, the better to illustrate the corporate website. Which suggested a plan of action to this quartet of ex-employees: as a substitute for the vast sums they felt they were due, they would swipe the gold bar right out from under John Donnelly’s nose. There was, of course, one minor detail: tech types generally don’t have a lot of experience with breaking and entering, except to the extent that it involves passwords and databases. Still, this is a realm where you learn by doing, and so they developed a plan.

This really should not have worked as a novel: technical descriptions tend toward the mundane, and most of the techies I know are decidedly short on drama. What makes this worth your time is Noggle’s attention to detail: J. Random Noob will appreciate the extra exposition, and your local expert will nod, “Yeah, that’s exactly the way I’d do that. If I were going to do that, which of course I’m not.” There might be a hair too much geographical exposition — by the time you’re finished you should be able to hire on as a cab driver in St. Louis County — but no matter about that. The plot is more than sufficiently twisty; I’m pleased to report that I did not even come close to predicting the way it ended. And if the dialogue meanders a bit, hey, that’s the way these people talk. I’ve heard them, and so have you.

This isn’t quite, say, the Elmore Leonard version of WarGames. It is, however, an entertaining mosaic of gigabytes and grifters, and you should read it. Unless, of course, you’re John Donnelly.

(Review copy purchased from publisher.)



  1. McGehee »

    5 June 2011 · 7:18 pm

    $9.99 on Kindle. Ouch. I rarely pay that much for a hard copy.

  2. Brian J. »

    6 June 2011 · 7:43 am

    I wrote the book while working as a tech writer. If you can’t do what they did, I failed on some level. So, anyone in OK, if you have problems with your Mr. Microphone, contact Charles.

    Thanks for the kind words.

  3. Musings from Brian J. Noggle » Blog Archive » Kind Words from Charles »

    6 June 2011 · 7:50 am

    […] Hill of reviews John Donnelly’s Gold. This really should not have worked as a novel: technical descriptions tend toward the mundane, […]

  4. McGehee »

    6 June 2011 · 9:52 am

    If you can’t do what they did, I failed on some level.

    Okay, that’s worth $9.99

  5. Brian J. »

    6 June 2011 · 11:01 am

    It’s worth $9.99 to see me fail on some level?

    You sure are one sore blogwar loser, aren’t you?

  6. McGehee »

    6 June 2011 · 4:47 pm

    You can make it up to me by finding a gold bar I can steal, using your how-to novel.

  7. Brian J. »

    6 June 2011 · 7:44 pm

    This would call for a repost of the Klingon pic, if I had not lost it in a hard drive crash and Web host move.

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