Red Team Blues is the first book in a new series by Cory Doctorow. In the near future, a retired forensic accountant, Martin Hench takes on one final job for an old friend. What follows is an unconventional who-done-it, featuring romance, gang warfare, philosophical ponderings, twists and turns, and problems with no clear solution. The title is a play on the words Red Team, which is the attackers in security, and Blues which is to be sad but also ironic because the “red team” is usually pitted against the “blue team.”
I love how Doctorow makes Martin Hench, the 67-year-old retired accountant, relatable and have a thrilling story as he tries to navigate a world of opportunities to give up his morals and take the easy path. The book’s critiques of surveillance and Martin’s balanced approach to securing his activities inspire me to fight for a world where we don’t have to jump through so many hoops for some privacy.
Although the book contains some pretty gruesome descriptions of hurt people, those don’t dominate the story and are well balanced by the romantic and adventure parts. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Wil Wheaton, which is so well acted it intensified all of the ups and downs.
My only real complaint about this book (but hey you can’t do it all) was the ending. The book clearly has some strong moral messages about problems (like surveillance) and how we can avoid them long term. However, at the end of the book (small spoiler here), the character simply donates a large amount of money to an organization helping homeless people. For all the big ideas this book puts out I’m a bit disappointed it didn’t touch more on the root causes of homelessness (property speculation, weak tenant protections, inaccessible healthcare, etc) which aren’t addressed by homeless shelters. Perhaps that’s saved for one of the next books in the series ;)
In short, I loved this book and would recommend it to anyone looking for a short, exciting, and educational story. I’m quite excited for the next book in the series The Bezzle, which is just one of many books Doctorow has coming down the pipeline.
Disclaimer: Doctorow offered to add your name to the end of the next book if you write a review and send it to him. That’s a partial motivation for writing this but I already paid for the book before I knew about that offer.