In one of the first works of fiction to make the outsourcing of jobs to foreign nations central to its plot, four unemployed technologists from the Boston area come up with an ingenious plan to rob a bank whose computer-controlled security system was implanted by a software company in India—a move that not only would be lucrative if successful but that would also, in a twisted way, “punish” the bank’s board of directors for cutting costs to the detriment of local laborers.
The story opens as Dan Wilson and Shrinivas Kumar lay out their plan: using a failure in the bank’s system, they plan to assemble a group of friends to attack the bank. They recruit two former colleagues also down on their luck: Joel, a libertarian with a knack for heavy artillery and Gordon, an insecure man who dreams of finding a mail-order bride to fill his empty life.
All four men have been victimized by the growing practice of outsourcing, and they are all embittered by the fact that qualified professionals like themselves become jobless simply because corporations were looking to cut a few too many corners—no matter what it cost to the communities around them.
As the foursome hash out their plan, another subplot ensues: two Boston cops are on the trail of Victor Petrenko, a Russian mafia leader who has established himself as a cruel “Don” who spreads fear around town while blackmailing prominent figures in order to avoid any serious prosecution. As the story unfolds, twists and turns bring the characters together for a surprising and eye-opening ending.
“Outsourced” is the fourth part of a crime series (preceded by “Small Crimes,” “Pariah” and “Killer”) by Massachusetts-based Dan Zeltserman. All of his central characters are driven to a fault, which usually proves to be their undoing.
This latest is a sobering read into the nature of the human being: if driven to the edge, would an average law-abiding citizen commit a crime in order to survive? And once having done that, can that same person face the consequences with a clear head? The answers are not easy. (Ernest Barteldes)
By Dave Zeltserman
Serpent’s Tail, 312 pages, $14.95