Outsourced is a fucking blockbuster of a novel, the type of book that you cancel plans for, even if said plans were to drop ecstasy in a snowbound cabin with a dead ringer for Christina Hendricks. Okay, that last bit might be pushing it, but you’d at least pack Outsourced with you so you’d have something to do between rounds of furious rumpy-and/or-pumpy. The Nerd has certainly not been shy with affection for Dave Zeltserman’s work in the past, but this is the book that, if we live in a just world, should give him the audience of a Don Winslow or a Dennis Lehane. But don’t think that just because I feel those decidedly outside of the basement crazy community could dig Outsourced that Zeltserman is pulling any fucking punches with this brutal beast of a book.
Dan Wilson has a brilliant idea for a bank heist. Thing is, the guy’s hardly a fucking professional criminal. In fact, he’s an out of work software engineer with a wife, two kids and a McMansion that’s getting harder to make payments on every month the job search continues to prove useless. To pull off this plan he enlists the help of three fellow computer nerds with similarly dire job prospects in an age where major corporations find it easier to outsource tech jobs to India than pay healthy salaries to Americans. Naturally, the perfect plan doesn’t go off perfectly and soon enough they’ve got dogged detective Alex Resnick and vicious Russian mobster Petrenko breathing down their necks.
Zeltserman brings you into this intense world with the relatable immediacy of Wilson and his friends’ desperate situation. Outsourced is a novel of no small amount of angst, a tale of men who were promised not just the American dream but the start up boom of a decade ago only to find themselves too old and too expensive to hire. These men felt betrayed when their companies abandoned them for younger, cheaper, foreign models and goddamnit they feel owed. So when the opportunity to rip off the safety deposit boxes of a notorious gangster presents itself, the fact that they’re exposing the security system glitches that resulted from the bank outsourcing work to India after firing Dan as system architect is just fucking icing. (Jesus, that’s a mouthful of a fucking sentence)
Zeltserman’s story of authentic, this-is-how-we-live-today middle class characters thrust into a horrifying world of sickening moral choices and mortal danger recalls the novels of Jason Starr, but the scope and cast is vaster than anything we’ve seen from Starr to date. Shit, Outsourced is bigger than anything Zeltserman himself has done up until now, and he pulls that shit off fucking handily, switching gears swiftly from intense family drama, nasty Russian mafia violence, and slick police procedural shit chapter by chapter. No character feels short-changed yet the pacing and tension never lets up in the fucking slightest, bringing you to the sickening conclusion faster than you though possible, until you look at the alarm clock and see that it’s fucking four in the morning, that is. (Jesus, did I just trot out the tired old “you’ll read until dawn” chestnut? To paraphrase LCD Soundsystem, the Nerd is losing his fucking edge.)
So in case you haven’t figured it out by now, tie-in novel to an NBC shitcom about how Indian accents are funny and curry gives you diarrhea this motherfucker most decidedly is not and stomach-churningly intense heist novel it most definitely fucking is. Like I said up top, Outsourced deserves to be fucking huge, it’s merely a matter of its readers not getting heart attacks so they can live to spread the word.