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Love, Loss and Digital-Age Deception in 'Hooked'

When Matt Richtel sat down in a cafe in 2003 to start work on the first few pages of Hooked, he was nursing wounds from a fresh breakup.

The New York Times writer quickly found himself weaving aspects of his day job — covering technology in Silicon Valley — into his own reflections on relationships. The result is his fast-paced thriller about wired-world intrigue and lost love.

The novel's protagonist, Nat Idle, is a freelance journalist who gets a warning in a note to leave a San Francisco cafe shortly before it explodes. He barely escapes, but the mysterious note, written in his deceased girlfriend's handwriting, sets him on an investigation that takes him deep into Silicon Valley, the venture capital world and digital culture.

Nat tracks down survivors of the blast, including a suspicious waitress and an aspiring novelist whose home catches on fire. His investigations also take him to his former girlfriend's family company. Richtel keeps his chapters short and filled with hooks to keep busy readers turning pages.

Richtel spoke with Scott Simon about how technology affects our brains, behavior and love lives.

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