Silvia's Reviews > Death Match

Death Match by Lincoln Child
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's review
Mar 24, 11

bookshelves: fiction-mystery
Read in March, 2011

To my surprise, I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. It takes a different perspective on the notion of the "ideal relationship", pushing the myth of the "perfect match" to an extreme through the use of computers and artificial intelligence. It was a pretty good read for geeky social work academic wanting some light reading, in how it addressed the intersection of technology and relationships, even though neither the writing nor the mystery plot were anything exceptional.

I was intrigued by the modernist myths at the heart of this story. One such myth is the omnipotence of science and technology -- if you have powerful enough modeling programs and processing power, you could figure out how to perfectly match people. It affirms a powerful belief in the notion of psychological testing, too. But not only is the computer omnipotent, it's also omniscient in that it is able to access and integrate the mountains of data available on people to understand more about any given individual than they could ever understand about themselves. And underlying it all, the dream of the perfect match is one based on modern notions of romance. We are realistic enough to know we are not perfect people, yet we dream of a perfect match, someone whose strengths and weaknesses perfectly complement our own. And we all want to live happily ever after. Alas, for too many people the headiness of early romance turns to ashes in the long term. Not so in this book. The perfect match remains perfect at every stage. It seems too good to be true, but it's not. It really exists.

I liked the main character of flawed hero Christopher Lash, a former FBI forensic psychologist, who is called in to investigate the deaths of one (and then more) of the most perfectly matched couples of all. As others have noted, the plot is fairly predictable after a certain point. But I very much liked the way the incredible power of the "perfect match" dream also consumed Lash himself.

The book really touches on that very powerful yearning to be perfectly known and perfectly loved by someone. This is the aspect of the book that drew me in the most, how it depicted this through this particular plot and its devices.

Invariably it made me think about my own 12-year relationship and how closely it actually resonates with the "perfect match" of the book. Yet my reality is at the same time different. I do believe that the "match" we make is very important, but it's not a one-time decision. Our intimate relationships challenge us to growth, sometimes through friction, which means the quality of our "match" is a work-in-process. Anyway, the book ended up raising those sorts of questions that social workers like me love to ponder about life, love, and relationships... and the geeky part of me loved the computer aspects... so I got a lot more out of this book than I expected.

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