Navigating the High-Stakes World of Finance and Friendship: A Review of Cory Doctorow’s “The Bezzle”

cory doctorow the bezzle

Cory Doctorow’s “The Bezzle,” a prequel to the celebrated “Red Team Blues,” revisits the life of Marty Hench, a forensic accountant with a penchant for uncovering financial scams. Doctorow’s narrative takes us back to the dot-com boom and the 2008 financial crisis, exploring the concept of the ‘bezzle’—a term coined by JK Galbraith to describe the deceptive calm before an embezzlement is discovered. This novel is not just a journey through financial intrigue but also a study of contrasts and consequences, set against the backdrop of America’s burgeoning prison-industrial complex.

The novel starts with Marty and his friend Scott Warms, who finds himself rich but disillusioned after selling his tech company. Together, they uncover a Ponzi scheme on Catalina Island, initiating a chain of events that exposes the darker sides of wealth and the legal system. Doctorow masterfully interweaves these personal dramas with broader societal critiques, especially highlighting the ruthless privatization of American prisons by private equity firms, creating a ‘bezzle’ of far greater magnitude and moral bankruptcy.

Doctorow’s prowess lies in crafting a compelling thriller and his acute observations of the technological and financial landscapes. His attention to detail, from the quirks of the dot-com era to the insidious spread of neo-Nazi police gangs, roots the narrative in a reality that is both recognizable and reprehensible. The novel’s strength also lies in its characters, particularly Marty Hench, whose journey from a sharp-minded accountant to a more reflective, albeit chastened, individual offers a nuanced exploration of friendship, loyalty, and the cost of justice.

“The Bezzle” stands out for its incisive commentary on the intersections of crime, punishment, and capitalism. Through Marty’s eyes, Doctorow delves into the mechanics of white-collar crime, juxtaposing the frictionless lives of the wealthy against the grinding hardship of prisoners and their families. This narrative is about uncovering financial fraud and exposing the societal bezzles that allow injustices to thrive unnoticed.

Sale
The Bezzle: A Martin Hench Novel (The Martin Hench Novels)
  • Hardcover Book
  • Doctorow, Cory (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 240 Pages – 02/20/2024 (Publication Date) – Tor Books (Publisher)

Doctorow’s novel resonates with the gritty realities of America’s carceral state, mirroring the detailed world-building found in science fiction and fantasy to lay bare the truths of our own world. The comparison to historical works like Dickens’ “Little Dorrit” reinforces the timeless nature of these themes, emphasizing how past and present intertwine in the perpetuation of systemic greed and exploitation.

In “The Bezzle,” Doctorow does more than tell a story; he invites readers to question the very fabric of society, the nature of friendship, and the price of freedom. It’s a book that thrills, educates, and disturbs, offering a mirror to the moral complexities of our times. It’s a must-read, not just for its narrative drive but for its urgent, resonant message about the world we navigate—both in the financial markets and beyond.


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Rethinking the Public Commonplace Book

commonplace book entry from Austin, TX
A bit of commonplace memories from Austin, TX

The great Cory Doctorow celebrated four years of his Pluralistic blog last week. As such, I felt it a good time to rethink my own attempts at creating a public commonplace book.

I’m unsure how effective my work at creating a commonplace book has been over the past couple of years, but I’m getting there.

I first spoke about this idea here, inspired by Cory’s work, Austin Kleon’s, Ryan Holiday’s, and a host of others.

My biggest fault is that I don’t post enough stuff. Why?

Because I’m always worried that what I post isn’t “good enough” or planned enough, or whatever. It’s silly, I know, but as a lifelong perfectionist and anxiety sufferer, it’s difficult not to think about those things.

So, I shall make another attempt to share all the awesome things I find, regardless of whether or not they specifically fit into some mold that I feel I must inhabit.

I don’t fit well in any mold. I have too many interests and passions. One day I might talk about rethinking education and the next I’ll talk about picking up a cool comic at my local shop.

Who knows where this journey will go? Not I, said the frog.


Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!

Friday Assorted Links

Title: "Az 1848-49-iki magyar szabadságharcz története [With illustrations.]"

Author(s): Gracza, György [person]

British Library shelfmark: "Digital Store 9315.h.13"

Page: 272 (scanned page number - not necessarily the actual page number in the publication)

Place of publication: Budapest

Date of publication: 1894

Type of resource: Monograph

Language(s): Hungarian

Physical description: 2 köt (4°)
Source: British Library on Flickr

The 11 Most Beautiful Post Offices Around the World

I’m a Student. You Have No Idea How Much We’re Using ChatGPT

– I’m halfway through Cory Doctorow’s latest novel, Red Team Blues. It’s pretty great.

These glacier photos are breathtaking

– Matt Damon on brainstorming and collaboration

The Hero’s Journey, according to Joseph Campbell



Thanks for taking the time to read this post. If you’ve enjoyed the insights and stories, consider showing your support by subscribing to my weekly newsletter. It’s a great way to stay updated and dive deeper into my content. Alternatively, if you love audiobooks or want to try them, click here to start your free trial with Audible. Your support in any form means the world to me and helps keep this blog thriving. Looking forward to connecting with you more!