Skip to main content

Code 6


Code 6

James Grippando steps away from his highly successful Jack Swyteck series and proves why he is one of the best thriller writers out there with the release of his latest stand-alone novel, CODE 6. It’s a scathing look at the world of Big Data through the eyes of a young playwright caught up in the travails of the family business.

Christian Gamble is the CEO of Buck Technologies and is attempting to groom his daughter, Kate, to become a new addition to their legal team once she finishes law school. The only issue is that Kate’s real love is writing. Her play has been selected for review by director and playwright Irving Bass, who potentially could produce it.

"What really drives this book are the characters --- fully fleshed-out, real and complex --- and you cannot help but root for Kate every step of the way right up until the stunning conclusion."

But these plans are sidelined when Kate’s mother allegedly kills herself by leaping off the balcony of their high-rise apartment building. The supposed suicide note from Elizabeth ends with the words “I did it for Kate.” Christian immediately comes under scrutiny, even though he was away on a business trip at the time of her death. The lead detective keeps going back to a 911 call from a few years ago when Elizabeth claimed abuse at the hands of her husband. She also accused him of having an affair with one of his co-workers, the now imprisoned Sandra Levy.

Kate understands that Sandra was never romantically involved with Christian and her imprisonment has nothing to do with him. Still, she is having difficulty processing her mother’s thought pattern at both committing suicide and leaving that cryptic note. Meanwhile, Kate reluctantly comes on board as a legal intern for Buck Technologies while not giving up on her dreams. Bass, who initially attacked her play, admits that he’s in a bad place and planning to go into rehab. But before that happens, he wants to meet with Kate and develop her ideas to make the script a viable piece that he can produce and stage for her.

The play deals with the origins of Big Data and how the information taken from it can be misused. It focuses on the IBM Hollerith D-eleven card sorting machine and the role it played in drawing the census data that Hitler and the Nazi party used to identify and later exterminate over six million Jews during the Holocaust. It sounds like a winner of an idea, but the comparisons to information that Buck Technologies may have been misusing comes to light in shocking ways during Kate’s tenure there.

On Kate’s first day, she sees fellow co-worker and childhood friend Patrick Battle. He inadvertently breaches company protocol by mentioning the name of a project he’s working on and immediately regrets it. Fearing that he might get fired for this misdeed, Patrick is instead approved for a corporate retreat in a far-away jungle in Columbia. What seems like a white-collar adventure turns into a nightmare when he disappears from his group and is kidnapped. A ransom is sent shortly thereafter to Christian demanding “Code 6” for his safe return. Often thought to be a myth, Code 6 is the deadliest technology that Buck has ever created. In the wrong hands, it could do the same kind of damage that is covered in Kate’s play.

Kate feels responsible for Patrick’s fate and meets with Sandra in prison to find out what exactly she went away for and if it had anything to do with Code 6. Christian does not want to deal with terrorists, but he also can’t afford the negative publicity or exposure if something were to happen to Patrick and Code 6 was revealed to the world anyway.

Grippando keeps a lot of balls in the air during CODE 6, and the action is pretty much non-stop. What really drives this book are the characters --- fully fleshed-out, real and complex --- and you cannot help but root for Kate every step of the way right up until the stunning conclusion.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on January 6, 2023

Code 6
by James Grippando

  • Publication Date: January 3, 2023
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Harper
  • ISBN-10: 0063223783
  • ISBN-13: 9780063223783