Lee Cuddy is seventeen years old and living in a quiet suburb of Philadelphia with her mother and her unctuous stepfather. A fast, intense friendship with a girl at school lands Lee in trouble with the cops when she takes the fall for a drug crime. Her real troubles begin with a knife fight and a hasty escape from juvie, when suddenly she finds herself a homeless fugitive with nowhere to turn. After a harrowing few days, a group of runaways discover her and offer her shelter in a squatter’s cooperative dubbed the Crystal Castle. But she discovers their enigmatic leader is hiding something terrible upstairs. After fleeing the Castle, she finds herself being followed by a dangerous underground organization, The Société Anonyme. The S.A.’s far-reaching influence has Lee on the run with no end in sight and no one to trust.
A smitten young hacker named Tomi pulls her out of danger and, after an unexpected tryst in the bowels of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the two become an unlikely Bonnie and Clyde. At night, they explore the abandoned buildings of Philadelphia. Tomi introduces her to the hidden treasures of the “Subnet” and the two spend hours together searching the underground web for traces of the S.A. Mimicking Lee and Tomi’s Subnet spelunking, Augustus Rose nimbly pulls threads of pop culture, art history, science, and mysticism into an addicting knot of connections and possible conspiracies.
With Tomi’s help, there is hope for escape. But once Lee glimpses the sinister truth behind the S.A—a shadowy cash operation using drug-fueled raves to entrap beautiful young bodies for exploitation —Lee can’t let go until she’s exposed the truth. The Readymade Thief follows Lee—tough as nails, a natural grifter, and fiercely loyal—as she uncovers a mystery and navigates a world of abandoned structures, illegal raves, designer drug labs, and the makeshift homes of the lost and forgotten.
Augustus Rose is a novelist and screenwriter. He was born in the northern California coastal town of Bolinas, and grew up there and in San Francisco. He lives in Chicago with his wife, the novelist Nami Mun and their son, and he teaches fiction writing at the University of Chicago.