Tag Archives: “Make Me” (novel)

The Dark Web

Let me preface this post by saying this is not only an extremely well written piece by Jason Smith, but one of the most important articles I’ve come across in recent memory. I strongly encourage you to read the link below.

I’m posting to this article about the dark web (aka Darknet) for a couple of reasons, one of which has to do with literature. I recently read a novel called Make Me about this very subject and was curious whether Lee Child was exaggerating for the sake of the “tension” of the plot, or whether this stuff was real.

Turns out Mr. Child was actually pussyfooting around the subject. Gulp.


Jason Smith has a more detailed answer to my question about whether this whole dark web thing is the real deal, and it’s not pretty. In an article titled “Journey Into the Dark” he actually tracks down someone who has operated extensively on the dark net, and the stories that follow have left a hollow feeling in my stomach.

To begin:

“There’s some awful shit on here,” he warned me. “In the old days, if someone was kidnapped, they asked for ransom. Now, these teams in South America abduct kids and women from areas that are poor, knowing the media won’t give a shit about them, and then hold them in dungeons with webcams. People then make requests using Bitcoin, as to what they want to see happen to the person. It’s fucking sick.”

Jim says he never ventured into that more insidious, disturbing side of the dark web because it scared him. But he has plenty of acquaintances who did, he says. He claims it changed them. He couldn’t say how, exactly. Or maybe he could but didn’t want to. Regardless, Jim said, they weren’t the same after.

The above is pretty much the plot of Make Me, and now I’m convinced there’s got to be some kind of solution we have to seek to the dark net – because if not, I’m pretty sure the Wild West is going to return like nothing we’ve seen in modern civilization.

Image result for fentanyl crisis

One case in point is the spread of drugs in Western society, which is facilitated in large part through the dark net. For those of us who live in Canada and the U.S., drugs like Fentanyl have taken over the streets in many cities. Both governments agree there is a national health crisis with respect to this. And the dark web is playing a significant role.

Per Mr. Smith’s article once again.

It’s a clusterfuck. People are dying, prisons are filling up, and nothing changes. More people died last year than at the height of the AIDS epidemic.

More Americans died from drug overdoses in 2016 than died during the entire duration of the Vietnam War.

And we’re not even close to getting a handle on this thing.

I don’t pretend to have any answers (I only learned what Tor, the onion router, and VPN were today), but I’m a little scared. I’m glad the feds are getting involved, though it seems to no real avail. A few high-profile minnow snags here and there in an ocean of corrupt whales.

For my own sanity, I think I’ll just stick to the surface web and continue to pretend the dark web doesn’t exist.


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A Little Fluff Never Hurt Nobody

Image result for fluff

Let’s be clear here. A little literary fluff, in moderation, is a good thing. Like drinking a case of beer (without anyone else’s oral assistance) while watching Hockey Night in Canada. Or reciting poetry to sharpen your addled brain. Or indulging in poutine after said night of debauchery and preparing for the poetics part the following morning (a person needs energy!).

That’s all chicken noodle fluff for the soul.

Whatever the hell it is that made it onto this post as the Pic of the Day is not a good thing, in moderation or even once in your life. REPEAT: If you see the above product while shopping, call in a Code Blue, throw yourself in a tent, and rub those rosary beads you carry with you for good luck. Oh, and pray the jar doesn’t consume you.

Last week, I finished this month’s book club novel, Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach, an impressively researched story about a young lady coming of age in New York City in the late 1930s and early 1940s,  freeing me up for a bit in between Curling Was Full choices. (Spoiler alert: Everyone dies at the end of Manhattan Beach when the Manhattan Project goes south and wipes out all the main characters, who’d taken refuge on a beach. Kind of a lame ending.)

Obviously I reached for the marshmallow fluff next, and just finished my latest Jack Reacher book (#20 in the series), Lee Child’s Make Me. I am now as content as a pig in…umm…a blanket?

Anyway, one of the reasons Mr. Child has my eternal love is that he doesn’t pretend to be anyone he’s not (or should I say JR doesn’t?). He has you hanging from page one, kicks some ass along the way in Nowhere, USA, then brings everything all together with a little bow on top. Nice.

But Lee Child’s real “piece of resistance” is the way he throws in facts, figures and stats. Unlike the Dan Brown Paradox, Mr. Child is not pretending to solve a centuries-old clue (except how some guys are always jacked up on testosterone maybe) when he discusses heavy subjects like suicide, the Gettysburg Address, and the dark web, all three of which he addresses in Make Me. More than that, he somehow makes it relevant to chasing bad guys around places like Mother’s Rest, Nebraska.

This got me to thinking, though. Trusting Goodreads as I do, I was curious what readers around the world considered the biggest pile of fluffy fluffiness. Well, I – and by extension you – now have the answer. Here’s the full list, but the Top 10 Most Popular Fluff Books goes like this, with Stephenie Meyer wearing the Empress’s New Clothes, Sophie Kinsella donning the queen’s crown, and Stephanie Perkins taking home the raciest title award.

1. Confessions of a Shopaholic, Sophie Kinsella

2. Twilight, Stephenie Meyer

3. Bridget Jones’s Diary, Helen Fielding

4. The Devil Wears Prada, Lauren Weisberger

5. New Moon, Stephenie Meyer

6. Can You Keep a Secret?, Sophie Kinsella

7. One for the Money, Janet Evanovich

8. Eclipse, Stephenie Meyer

9. Breaking Dawn, Stephenie Meyer

10. Anna and the French Kiss, Stephanie Perkins

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Lee Child: Brain, Meet Candy

Image result for lee child

In between sweeping fictional epics and treatises on a broad range of subjects, from the origin of modern phytoplankton to explaining theories of economic growth, I like to get my inner Child on. Lee, that is.

As I await my Amazon order due next week (Manhattan Beach, Don Quixote), I have a few days to let my mind wander, so I let it wander all the way to the local library yesterday, where I picked up Make Me, Lee Child’s 8 millionth addition to the Jack Reacher Library for Altruism, Public Safety & Community Affairs.

And for reasons that escape me, I can’t get enough of JR/Lee Child. Or, as Murakami Haruki is super-enthusiastically quoted as saying on Mr. Child’s website, “I like Lee Child!” Good on ya, Haruks! Talk about a ringing endorsement. Maybe someone should have looked at “The Language of Love” before translating that one.

I tried explaining the appeal of Lee Child to my mother last night, but fear I didn’t do a very good job.

“So I’m about 120 pages in,” I began, “and essentially nothing’s happened so far. JR’s in the middle of nowhere Oklahoma, there’s been one minor fight, no deaths, one gun scene, a complete lack of blood, and a mystery tied to the evolution of wheat.”

“Weak?” she asked.

“Nope. Wheat”

“Like a Tweet?”

“Similar, but totally opposite. Like shredded wheat, yet not yet shredded yet. Anyway, Lee Child’s greatest description thus far into the book is of a train station and a mahogany bench. In a town called Mother’s Rest.”


“Not who. Where.”


“Anywho, I’m not kidding about the slowness of it. Best of all, if you asked Matt to edit this as a manuscript, he’d have a heart attack and lose much of his head hairs; there’s alliteration all around, poor man’s poorly punctuation, dialogue bleeding from one character to the next (how many people really say ‘a million to one gets you…’ so often?), and so on and so forth.”

“So why do you like him so much?” my mom asked, equally fascinated and repulsed by my answer.

“I dunno, but I do!”

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