Ratliff’s book is meticulously researched and written with feverish intensity. And while, at nearly 400 pages, it would have benefited from editing, The Mastermind is a masterwork of investigative journalism.
With such a crazy story, it might have been tempting for the writer to amplify its oddness, to play it for laughs. Instead, Ratliff reports exhaustively and writes soberly, all the while remaining conscious of the ludicrousness of the reality he’s recounting. It’s a brilliant book, one that makes Le Roux’s life and career seem a suitably wild parable for a digitally deranged age.