This novel begins in a courtroom with the acquittal of a killer, Robert Polanski, who was charged with multiple counts of homicide. After being released, Polanski meets with his lawyer, who subsequently is killed in a bizarre traffic accident. Polanski’s last act before disappearing is to send off a mysterious package to person or persons unknown.
The scene now shifts to bestselling thriller writer, Nic Stiles, who is sequestered alone at his cabin, trying desperately to pen another bestseller. Since the beginning of Nic’s career, his publisher involved him in a pseudo-feud between himself and another bestselling writer, Grayson Fallon, a man Nic has never met. The constant stress of this competition, even though not real, has left Nic dry and unable to write. He also has concerns for his wife, Grace, who, back in New York, has a problem with pills and alcohol.
Taking a break from his struggle to write, Nic heads to town to pick up his mail. In his box is his usual envelope from his publisher and another unexpected package with no return address. Nic heads to lunch, his fertile mind wondering if the strange package contains a bomb or possibly some kind of poison. Pushing these thoughts aside, he opens the envelope. Inside is an ancient wooden box which holds what Nic thinks is just about the ugliest green fountain pen he’s ever seen. But is it an ordinary pen? The cryptic note, from killer Polanski, that accompanies the gift, seems to infer that the pen isn’t just a cheap writing instrument and that, somehow by using it, the writer’s wishes may be granted.
Outsourced, by author Gates, is one terrific techno-thriller with a touch of Stephen King-like magic woven throughout. It also reminded me of an old horror tale, The Monkey’s Paw by W.W. Jacobs, the moral of which is to be careful what you wish for because you might just actually get it. The pace of Outsourced is fast and Gates keeps the tension high throughout the novel. Even some of the more esoteric discussions of quantum mechanics keep the reader rapt, trying to figure out the magic inside the strange pen. A real page-turner, Outsourced is hard to put down. I finished my copy at 4 a.m. this morning and was strangely sad that the tale had ended. However, I see now that this is the first book in a series and I look forward eagerly to the next installment.
Outsourced is highly recommended for lovers of thrillers, techno-thrillers, books with a touch of the occult, and mysteries that need to be solved. In summary, it’s a great read! 5-Stars!