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Kidd and LuEllen #1

The Fool's Run

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John Sandford, the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Prey novels gives suspense an ingenious twist as he takes readers into the mind games of two irresistible con artists plotting the perfect sting...

Kidd is a computer whiz, artist, and professional criminal. LuEllen is his lover, and his favorite partner in crime. Their playing field in on the cutting edge of high-tech corporate warfare. This time they've been hired by a defense industry corporation to destroy its business rival through computer sabotage. If Kidd and LuEllen can pull it off, they'll reap millions. It's the sting of a lifetime. One false move and it's a lifetime sentence. As the takedown unfolds, everything goes according to plan. But their string of successes turns into a noose when the ultimate con artists find themselves on the wrong end of the ultimate con...

340 pages, Mass Market Paperback

First published January 1, 1989

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About the author

John Camp

7 books48 followers
John Roswell Camp is the real name for author John Sandford.

John Sandford is the pseudonym for the Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist John Camp. He is the author of over twenty Prey novels; eight Virgil Flowers novels, and seven other books, including the young adult novels Uncaged and Outrage, written with Michele Cook. He lives in New Mexico.

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5 stars
3,239 (33%)
4 stars
3,767 (39%)
3 stars
2,077 (21%)
2 stars
418 (4%)
1 star
131 (1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 344 reviews
Profile Image for Kemper.
1,390 reviews6,828 followers
April 17, 2019
Listen all y'all, it's a sabotage.

Corporate sabotage, that is.

Kidd is an artist who uses his computer skills to pay the bills that selling paintings won’t cover. He’s also willing to engage in some hacking if the price is right. The wealthy owner of an aviation company approaches Kidd to help him even the score after one of his rival corporations stole a breakthrough piece of technology developed to help sell a new type of jet to the military.

It’s a risky operation that has to be done on a deadline, but the paycheck is a small fortune so Kidd takes the gig. He also recruits some allies to help. His friend/sometime lover LuEllen is a professional burglar who can help him get into the homes of employees for passwords and other info, and Dace is a disgraced journalist who still has the contacts to start smearing the rival company in the media once they throw several monkey wrenches into the works. If they can pull it off they all walk away rich. If not, they might wind up in jail. Or worse.

John Sandford came up with this series at the same time as his Prey novels, and it originally came out in 1989 under his real name John Camp because they were both being published by two different companies who didn’t want to have the same author competing with himself. The Prey series sold better so many more books followed while the Sandford name became the brand. After two books, Kidd would only appear in the Prey series as an unnamed artist until Sandford finally got the full rights back, and once he was a regular best-seller Kidd and LuEllen would return in two more books as well as popping up in the other series now and then.

It’s surprising that this book holds up as well as it does considering it should have several dated aspects. Kidd, like the early version of Davenport in Prey, seems to be constructed as the prototypical ‘80s action/thriller star. He’s a computer expert who is a Vietnam vet that studies martial arts who also engages in shady business. The artist angle makes him a little eccentric, and there’s the added quirk of his using tarot cards as way of spurring outside the box thinking. However, just as he did with Davenport, Sandford manages to keep Kidd grounded and relatable enough that you feel like you’re reading about a smart person with skills, not some completely unrealistic macho asshole.

The other dated element the book manages to skirt is that although a lot of this based on computer hacking circa 1989, it doesn’t read as being ancient. Unlike many a thriller writer in the ‘90s, Sandford always had a knack for incorporating tech of the day and using it for plot points without having people talk about it with wide-eyed awe. While Kidd has to explain some computer stuff and what he’s doing it always seems kind of matter of fact and keeps it a high enough level that the same concepts still apply today.

Overall, this is just a really solid thriller done by a writer early in his fiction career who would go on to become a master at plotting and building tension and momentum. He’s not quite there yet, and the last third of book doesn’t have the same kind of climax you get in his best work.

I’d probably go 3 stars if I just didn’t like Kidd and LuEllen as characters so damn much. Plus, I really appreciate just how deviously clever the sabotage plan is with Kidd being absolutely diabolical in the changes he makes to the company’s computer system coupled with their media campaign to discredit the company. There’s a reason Prey became the more popular series, but there is still fun reading to be had here for Sandford fans.
Profile Image for Andrew Smith.
1,053 reviews583 followers
April 1, 2015
Most crime fans will be familiar with Sandford’s Davenport and Flower books, but how many have sampled his earlier Kidd series? I hadn’t, until a Goodreads friend posted a favourable review – so, this was my first.

Initially it felt a little dated, as the hired computer wiz kid (Kidd) wrestled with old technology to infiltrate a defence industry corporation - well, the book was written in 1989, so technology has moved on. And I couldn’t escape the feeling I was reading a variation of a Bernie Rhodenbarr adventure by Lawrence Block: our hero was a suave woman friendly guy who was only partially interested in his chosen field of crime – being much more intent on dragging out an easel and setting up for a protracted painting session at every opportunity. It had that same whimsical feel about it as the Block books.

Once into the story, however, an interesting scenario and an equally interesting set of characters quickly ensured I set aside any reservations I had. Typical of the author, I found the tale to be fluidly told with one or two nice twists and a decent ending. Sandford has written better, but this wasn’t too shabby. I’ll most likely be back for the rest of the series at some point.
Profile Image for John Culuris.
173 reviews73 followers
December 21, 2017
Published originally under John Sandford’s real name, this novel features Kidd, a computer genius (in 1989) who is recruited by a civilian defense contractor to destroy a rival company over industrial espionage. A solid debut novel that shows that from the start the author had the ability to create compelling characters. It is also interesting to look back at the “modern computer capabilities” of the day.
Profile Image for Mary Drayer.
1,081 reviews7 followers
February 18, 2019
If you are interested in a computer spy thriller...You found it here! The twists, computer geniuses, guns, all within a great con game...
Profile Image for Jim A.
1,267 reviews63 followers
July 12, 2012
First written by John Camp, John Sandford’s real name. It features Kidd and LuEllen as the two protagonists. Kidd is an artist, a software designer and a computer hacker. His specialty is getting into corporate computer systems and looking around. LuEllen likes to get into homes and look around. She's a high end burglar.

The story holds up pretty well considering it was written in 1989. The technology is dated as one would imagine. If you can get past the references to IBM AT, PS2 and Kaypro computers with Hayes modems, you’re off to the races. The story centers around an attempt by one corporation to hack into another corporation with the intent of destroying its ability to produce a fighter for the military. It wouldn’t be a thriller if there weren’t some pitfalls along the way and some double crosses as well. But the story moves along and doesn't bog down at all. Classic early Sandford prose, keep the reader interested.

This was the first of four Kidd novels written by Sandford (Camp). Camp moved away from the Prey series with the Virgil Flowers series instead of continuing with Kidd. I thought back when the Kidd series was still being written that it was a offset, good guy (Davenport) and criminal/con man (Kidd). Apparently Camp or his publishers didn’t think it was a good mix. Too bad.
121 reviews1 follower
October 16, 2017
About the first 30% (I am reading on kindle app which is how I can be specific with %) I thought, "I am just not into this book. One star. Then I kept reading, about 45% I started to like it more and thought 3 stars. By 60% I couldn't put it down. It is a little dated, but great book.
Profile Image for Teresa.
104 reviews2 followers
May 2, 2012
Sanford introduces new characters with this book. The unlikely team of Kidd, a freelancing computer expert with a passion for painting, and LuEllen, a successful full-time residential burglar. As with all of Sanford's starring characters, they are extremely interesting, multi-dimensional, believable...
In this case, Kidd has been contacted by huge corporation to hack into the computer system of their main competitor and wreak as much havoc as possible. The two corporations are vying for a major government contract and neither is above playing dirty to be the winner.
The job has major risks if they're caught with long-term imprisonment being the best case scenario. The two million dollar paycheck and the challenge of the job draw Kidd in. He contacts a couple of old friends, including LuEllen, to assist.
I almost put this aside when I was just a few chapters in because there was a lot of technical computer jargon going on that was in danger of losing me but made myself stick with it because it was Sanford, after all, and he's never let me down. It very quickly turned into an exciting tale that kept me totally entertained.
I took away one star only because some of the computer stuff was hard to get through and I think that having such a plethora of it right off the bat may lose some readers (as it nearly did me).
Profile Image for Chuck.
912 reviews11 followers
February 14, 2013
I decided at some point to read all of John Sandford's mysteries, however, I wasn't smart enough to start at the beginning and have just read his books as I found them. I have now read 20 of his thirty some novels and find myself reading many of his early books now. I have enjoyed them more than the recent efforts. He originally published this book under his real name John Camp, but has republished all his books under his pseudonym. John Camp was a Pulitzer Prize winning author and must have had his reasons for this change. In any case, this book was written in 1989 and is a little dated when dealing with computer hardware and software, but it is still relative with the way computers have since taken over our lives. This book is not politically correct. It has very casual sex, innocent people killed, computer hackers, drugs, a hero and heroine that are criminals and no one comes to justice. Probably why I enjoyed it so much.
Profile Image for D..
681 reviews16 followers
December 8, 2013
In my effort to work my way through John Sandford's works, I realized that I had missed his FIRST book, written under his real name, John Camp.

FOOL'S RUN reads in many ways, like a "dry run" for the first few novels in the PREY series. It's more of a "techno-thriller" than a crime novel, but the authorial voice and dialogue are very similar to the first few Davenport novels. The protagonist, Kidd, is also something of a template for Davenport, who doesn't feel that he has to "play by the rules," has a number of eclectic hobbies, and is well-versed in a wide variety of skills.

All in all, a pretty engaging thriller, with a few surprises in the narrative. Worth reading, especially if you're a fan of Sandford's other work.
Profile Image for Yev.
573 reviews10 followers
November 1, 2021
After having read fifteen books in the author's Prey series, I thought I'd go back to the other series he started at the same time and see how it was. Unlike his main series where the protagonist enforces the law in his own particular way, the protagonist for this one is entirely outside of the law. It made for an interesting story and characters, but it was all a bit too much. Here's how Kidd, the protagonist is described.

You have a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering. You have a master of fine arts in painting. You should have a Ph. D. in software design, but you skipped your orals to go fishing in Costa Rica.

Your friends say you stay up all night and sleep until noon. You paint and do computer programs and know a lot of politicians who come to your apartment with sacks full of money.

Your friends say you have a wonderful nerd act. You dress up like an engineer with a white shirt and string tie, and put a calculator on your belt and nine ballpoint pens in a white plastic pocket shield.

You worked with the Strategic Operations Group out of Saigon during the Vietnam War

He's dressed in an Army urban camouflage suit that's supposed to be sort of secret.

A couple of people said you do the tarot.

It doesn't end there by any means. He's also a martial artist who seduces women, has a super hacker friend, casually meets up with arms dealers, and is quite the marksman. It's really quite something.

As for the plot, it's basically an end of the 80s technothriller. All the technological stuff is rather dated now, but since I've had personal experience with some of it, it wasn't anything I didn't understand.

Almost all of the author's books take place in the same universe and interact with each other, often in small ways, so I thought I may as well read these four books. After having read this first one though, I don't think I care enough to do so now. It's probably enough for when they're eventually in the main series. I don't know why this didn't work for me and that's too bad. If I could rate this exactly 2.5 stars, I would, but I can't, so 3 stars it is, because it isn't quite that meh.

Rating: 2.5/5
Profile Image for Carol Jean.
632 reviews10 followers
October 8, 2019
Whew! Burglary, computer hacking, armed robbery...this book has it all! Well-drawn characters and a plot that winds up, takes a breath, and goes on! Very enjoyable.
Profile Image for Travis Starnes.
Author 22 books40 followers
May 22, 2014
This book involves computers and was written very early in the digital age, something that might bother a lot of people reading this book years after it was written. While it doesn’t bug me I can see how the dated technology could throw some readers. It is important to note that the computers in the book are a plot point and not the real focus of the book. Like Sanford’s other work The Fools Run is more about Kidd’s ability to think his way around situations.

This book really gives you what readers of other Sandford titles have come to expect; an interesting problem, not really a mystery since the twist was fairly standard for this type of thriller/mystery and can be seen coming miles down the road, fun characters with good interplay and well written dialogue. While Kidd is less white hat then Davenport or Flowers, Sanford’s other who serialized characters, he is equally as interesting. His interplay with LuEllen especially works and the two really play off each other. Also, the use of Tarot in the book as game theory is an interesting device that I have not really seen before.

Profile Image for Ruth.
70 reviews26 followers
March 28, 2020
John Sandford is my favorite author so i will read anything of his. But in this book some of the computer tech stuff was over my head. Kidd and LuEllen were good characters and i did like them but Sandford's other characters Virgil Flowers and Lucas Davenport [my favorite] are better. The shoot-out at the end was the best part of this book. Maybe that's why i like Davenport and Flowers better over the computer tech Kidd.
Profile Image for David Hensley.
40 reviews4 followers
June 6, 2015
Hiis first novel, there are senblences of the sttyle and click in his later and present work, but it also has some head scratching moments and silver bullets. Workth reading and rememberering when computers used dial up modems.
13 reviews
September 28, 2017
I read this book a long time ago, possibly when it was first published. I found it entertaining, perhaps because the protagonist is a software developer. It falls into a genre that I refer to in my mind as the "Mission Impossible" genre. Mostly in the sense of the original TV series where "An elite covert operations unit carries out highly sensitive missions subject to official denial in the event of failure, death or capture." (IMDB description) I'm a sucker for stories where a team of experts assembles for a dangerous operation of questionable legality but for the right reasons.

I bought all four books in this series about 10 years ago and reread them. I grabbed the first again today and knocked it off in about 3 hours. Good writing, good characters, well thought out and developed plot.
Profile Image for Carol .
896 reviews
August 18, 2021
Way back in 1986 Pulitzer Prize- winning journalist John Camp used the pseudonym John Sandford to write his first Kidd and LuEllen novel. He went on to write four more Kidd novels. Kidd is a computer geek and LuEllen is a thief. Kidd also is an artist mainly water colors. They get together once in awhile to make a little money using their unique skills. This was one of those times. Easy money or so they thought until it got rough..
Profile Image for Susannah Carleton.
Author 6 books28 followers
July 6, 2018
Great story about a computer hacker hired by a company to ruin its biggest competitor for a prime defense contract. He and his friends do the job he was hired to do, but shortly thereafter learn that the facts they had been given were lies. They also realize that one of their group who was killed died because of a hit ordered against them by the company that hired them. (The other two escaped.)

Now, the hacker is out to destroy the company that hired him, in the hope of obtaining a truce or stalemate. Will they be able to achieve their goals?
Profile Image for K.
902 reviews11 followers
April 30, 2019
My fun with John Sandford (real name: John Camp) began with the "Virgil Flowers" series, followed by several of the "Prey" series. So imagine my surprise to learn of this series, which he apparently wrote back in the 8o's, along with his "Prey" novels, but under his real name. See, that's why I love Goodreads; it's such a wonderful source of information about authors & books that I'd otherwise likely never encounter. So, many thanks to my fellow readers / friends here on Goodreads for making me aware of this very entertaining novel.

Our protagonist and narrator, Kidd, is a Vietnam vet, a student of Shotokan Karate, a painter, and, oh yeah, just happens to be pretty savvy with computer code, and phone line tapping (thanks to his work in 'Nam helping the CIA). Although he's basically a good guy, he's quite comfortable with criminal activities. Which makes it convenient for him to team up with a very cool burglar and occasional sex partner who goes by the pseudonym, LuEllen. No one, including Kidd, knows her real name or address, which is how she prefers things. But she, an ex-jounalist friend of Kidd's and some mysterious computer nerds/coders will team up to do a job that has been pitched to Kidd. It's got to do with corporate espionage, and DOD contracts, and, given the time-frame, floppy disks that hold programs for computers. In short, Kidd's team has been hired by one corporation to destroy a business rival through computer sabotage. Of course, they're given a plausible justification and a boatload of money to agree to the job.

Everything goes well until... well, it just had to have a twist that makes the book so entertaining. Otherwise, it'd be essentially a plain-vanilla story. So, we get crosses and double crosses, some mild sex, and a fast-paced story well-told. Sandford, er, Camp's ability to weave a good yarn populated with characters that are memorable and worth revisiting shines through, especially in the second half of the book. A solid 4 stars.
Profile Image for Jan.
1,077 reviews29 followers
July 24, 2019
A 1980's techno thriller from John Sandford that introduces characters who pop up in some of the Prey books. The techno stuff is amusingly dated, and the writing lacks the punch and humor Sandford has perfected in the Lucas Davenport and Virgil Flowers series. But even subpar Sandford is well worth reading, and I enjoyed getting the origin story for Kidd and LuEllen. 3.5 stars.
Profile Image for Rachael.
185 reviews1 follower
June 30, 2021
I love the Davenport and Virgil books, but I didn’t get into this as much. The characters are interesting, and I still enjoy Sandford’s style…but eh. Maybe it’s the whole “computer hacker” focus (which is not my thing) in a book written in the late 1990s. 😂 Still, entertaining enough to finish!!
Profile Image for Julie.
932 reviews34 followers
August 4, 2018
This is a 3.5 but because it's a Sandford it gets a 4. Kinda funny read with the computer lit almost 30 years later :)
Profile Image for Teri Pre.
1,625 reviews30 followers
February 5, 2021
I really wish I would have read this series before I came across the characters in the Prey books. I kind of know too much about the future Kidd & LuEllen. Great story though!
Profile Image for Mary.
802 reviews11 followers
September 15, 2021
Good fast paced read w/ quirky characters, like LuEllen the theif, and Bobby the mysterious hacker. Kidd is approached by a beautiful blond woman about a job and is intrigued enough to fo to Chicago and see if it is to his liking. It is a scary, risky job, but the money makes him over look the danger sings in the Tarrot cards.
Profile Image for StarMan.
636 reviews17 followers
June 7, 2023
Old-school, pre-Internet computer shenanigans (circa 1989) + crime/thriller stuff.

Stretches believability a few times (as in, would a reasonable human being actually do that?), but overall it's a good escapist read.

VERDICT: 3 floppy diskettes.
Profile Image for Dani Morrow.
192 reviews
February 28, 2023
The first of the Kidd series. Classic Sandford. An addition element of entertainment was the early 90s computer hacking… dial up, disks, and phone lines! Lol.
Profile Image for Patrick.
607 reviews1 follower
November 23, 2017
This was an interesting book that features a hacker an his exploits named Kidd. It's the first of a series. The plot is interesting. But the description of the hacking techniques is dated. I finally looked at when the book was originally published, 89, and that kind of explains it. It suffers from a technology point of view these days as no one uses dial up modems anymore, at least I hope not. But that aside, it provided an interesting insight into how some hackers actually work. Recommended.
Profile Image for Donna Mcnab.
1,261 reviews15 followers
April 30, 2021
I didn't find the character of Kidd as real somehow as John Sandford's other main characters, who I really like. I did, however, enjoy this book enough to buy the second book in the series and I will see if the Kidd books grow on me.
Profile Image for Zsazsa Lambert.
16 reviews1 follower
May 9, 2022
Never disappoints have re-read many times

Tight plotting , good character development , just enough tension vs action . Honestly wish sandford had taken Kidd and luEllen further than 5 books . In todays computer world there is an unlimited story line potential . Any way the books are worth the money and i re-read them often
13 reviews
April 11, 2020
Good story good main character

Interesting to meet a new main character, sort of like a young Lucas good mix of light weight computer description with assorted supporting cast.
Easy read, easy escape -good.time.for a story where the "good guy" wins unlike what real life is like for most people who feel powerless in the face of a pandemic.
Profile Image for Angel.
90 reviews1 follower
June 18, 2017
As an avid John Sanford fan, I have read his Lucas Davenport "Prey" books and his Virgil Flowers novels and always enjoy them. A friend loaned me this book telling me it was one of his first novels and not Davenport or Flowers but Kidd! The computer hacker! So I started reading it months ago, and initially found it somewhat dated, (that's my fault it's 2017 and this book was written way back in 1989!), but then as I read further I became intrigued by what the characters were able to pull off. CD-ROMs and floppy discs aside, this story really does have a current feel, especially with all the bank and credit card security breaches that are in the news almost daily. The book ended up not disappointing.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 344 reviews

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