The Bezzle excerpt (Part VI)

The thrilling conclusion!

Cory Doctorow
4 min readFeb 23, 2024

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The cover of the Tor Books edition of *The Bezzle*: a yellow background with the words ‘Cory Doctorow,’ ‘The Bezzle,’ ‘New York Times Bestselling Author,’ and ‘A Martin Hench novel.’ Between them is an escheresque impossible triangle. The center of the triangle is a barred, smaller triangle (in blue, black and cream) that imprisons a silhouetted male figure in a suit. Two other male silhouettes in suits run alongside the top edges of the triangle.

I’m on tour with my new novel The Bezzle! Catch me TOMORROW (Feb 24) in LA (Saturday, with ADAM CONOVER), Seattle (Feb 26), with NEAL STEPHENSON), then Portland, Phoenix and more!

A yellow rectangle. On the left, in blue, are the words ‘Cory Doctorow.’ On the right, in black, is ‘The Bezzle.’ Between them is the motif from the cover of *The Bezzle*: an escheresque impossible triangle. The center of the triangle is a barred, smaller triangle that imprisons a silhouetted male figure in a suit. Two other male silhouettes in suits run alongside the top edges of the triangle.

It’s launch-week for my new novel The Bezzle, a high-tech, revenge-soaked crime thriller in which my intrepid forensic accountant Martin Hench must pit his wits against unbelievably evil (and sadly true-to-life) prison-tech grifters:

https://pluralistic.net/2024/02/14/minnesota-nice/#shitty-technology-adoption-curve

As part of the launch, I’m serializing part of Chapter 14, a side-plot about music royalty theft and the (again, sadly true-to-life) corruption of the LA Sheriffs Deputies, who are organized into criminal gangs that murder, run drugs and intimidate with impunity:

https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/deputy-gangs-cancer-los-angeles-county-sheriffs-department-scathing-re-rcna73367

Today marks the sixth and final installment of the serial, but you can hear me read more of the book. Just show up at one of the stops on my book tour! Tomorrow (Feb 24) in LA, I’m appearing on Saturday evening with AdamC onover at Vroman’s:

https://www.vromansbookstore.com/Cory-Doctorow-discusses-The-Bezzle<

And then on Monday I’ll be in Seattle at Third Place Books with Neal Stephenson:

https://www.thirdplacebooks.com/event/cory-doctorow

From there, I’m off to Portland, Phoenix, Tucson and points further:

https://pluralistic.net/2024/02/16/narrative-capitalism/#bezzle-tour

Here’s part one of the serial:

https://pluralistic.net/2024/02/17/the-steve-soul-caper/#lead-singer-disease

Part two:

https://pluralistic.net/2024/02/19/crad-kilodney-was-an-outlier/#copyright-termination

Part three:

https://pluralistic.net/2024/02/20/fore/#lawyer-up

Part four:

https://pluralistic.net/2024/02/21/im-feeling-unlucky/#poacher-turned-keeper

Part five:

https://pluralistic.net/2024/02/22/self-censorship/#acab

And now, the thrilling conclusion!

Benedetto was outraged by my face and swore he’d sue the Sheriff’s Department on my behalf. He got even angrier when I got stopped again, the following week, as I was leaving my concussion checkup at the Kaiser hospital on Sunset by a sheriff’s deputy who had me pull over in front of the big Scientology building. This deputy was a little bantam rooster of a fellow, with a shiny bald head and mirror shades and no neck. He strutted up to my car, got me out of it, ran my ID, and frisked me. “Do you know why I pulled you over, sir?” he said. He had that cop knack for making “sir” sound like “motherfucker.”

“No, sir,” I said, trying it out myself.

He didn’t like that and leaned in close enough for me to smell his aftershave and the scented sunscreen on his bare scalp.

“I stopped you, sir, because you were using your phone while driving.”

I must have looked surprised.

“I personally saw you tapping at your phone screen. That is a misdemeanor, sir. Reckless driving.”

He stopped as if waiting for me to respond. I made myself go mild. “Sir, I did not use my phone.”

He was waiting for that. He narrowed his eyes and leaned in closer. “Are you telling me I didn’t see what I saw?”

Mild, Marty, mild. “I don’t know what you saw, sir, but I didn’t use my phone.”

He rocked back and tilted his head. Patients went by with crutches and walkers. Nurses and doctors passed in scrubs. Scientologists scurried in and out of their gigantic temple. A fruit cart man labored past us.

“Well, sir, this should be simple enough to resolve.” He reached for his belt and pulled out a generic ruggedized cop-­rectangle of gear, and unspooled a multiheaded cable from its side. He leaned into the rental and retrieved my phone, and squinted at its I/O port, then attached the cable to my phone. The rugged rectangle beeped. “I’m gathering forensics on your mobile device, sir,” he said.

I’d figured that out already. My phone — ­like yours and ­everyone else’s — ­was a trove of my most intimate information, a record of all the places I’d been and people I’d spoken to and all the things I’d said to them. It was full of photos and passwords and client files and voice memos. It was more information than any judge would have granted a warrant for on a reckless-­driving rap.

The little man smirked as he held my phone and his gadget. I stayed mild as milk. I was running full-­device encryption. I’m no computer security expert, but I spend a lot of time around them, and they’d been insistent on this point, and had made reference to this very scenario in describing why I would bother to dig around my phone’s settings to turn this on.

God, my face hurt. I didn’t know how long the gadget was supposed to take, but from the cop’s increasing impatience, I could tell it was going long.

Beep. The cop shaded the gadget’s little screen from the punishing LA sun with one hand and peered at it.

“Sir, I need you to unlock this device, please.”

My face hurt. Be mild, Marty. “I invoke my right to counsel,” I said.

He pursed his lips. “Sir, if you would please enter your unlock code, we can verify whether your device is in use and we can both be on our way.”

“I invoke my right to remain silent.” I said it straight into his bodycam.

He sighed and looked irritated. I had known Benedetto for so long that I had once had to dial his number from a landline. I’d long ago memorized his office’s number, 1–­800-­LAWER4U. He’d bought it early, back before 800 numbers got expensive, and he’d had plenty of offers for it. He’d kept it.

If you’d like an essay-formatted version of this post to read or share, here’s a link to it on pluralistic.net, my surveillance-free, ad-free, tracker-free blog:

https://pluralistic.net/2024/02/23/gazeteer/#fin

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