Matt Richtel, a The New York Times Pulitzer Prize-winning tech reporter in San Francisco, will happily tell you he doesn’t work with a game plan, doesn’t stay in his lane, has no filter and rarely wears dress pants (he works from home). So when Richtel decided to write The Man Who Wouldn’t Die ($16.99, William Morrow), a noir detective novel parodying his longtime beat, Silicon Valley, no one blinked an eye.
Written under the pseudonym A.B. Jewell, the story follows Detective William Fitzgerald as he investigates the death of a man who has been tweeting from the grave. “Could life-after-death be Silicon Valley’s latest innovation?” Fitzgerald wonders. “Our bodies die but our souls and social media accounts are eternal?”
While the noir genre is constant, the Valley not so much, notes Richtel, who says, since the 1990s, he’s watched it become greedier, wealthier, more crowded and filled with “self-love.” In The Man Who Wouldn’t Die, his detective is the only sane person there. This is Richtel’s seventh novel (eighth if counting his children’s book, Runaway Booger), but it’s the first time he’s adopted a pen name. Jewell is the alter ego of “the guy who writes serious stuff about stocks falling,” says Richtel, who won his 2010 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting on texting and driving. “Jewell is the dude who goes, ‘Really?’ This is a voice that’s very authentic to me,” he says about why he delved into comedic hard-boiled detective fiction. “We all could afford a little bit of laughter because, Lord knows, we can afford everything else.”