Thomas Pynchon often sets his sprawling works around seismic historical events (World Wars I and II, the American Revolution). Bleeding Edge takes place in New York City between 2000’s dot-com bust and Sept. 11, 2001. And though the reader knows the events of 9/11 are on the horizon, Pynchon adroitly guides us through a maze of bliss, crime, naiveté and conspiracy that’s as entertaining as anything he’s ever written. Private investigator Maxine Tarnow checks into the slimy doings of Gabriel Ice and his underground, Internet-hacking company of ne’er-do-gooders, hashslingrz, which (in typical Pynchon fashion) leads her to meet a wide cast of international characters who keep the story moving at a swift pace. Pynchon’s books generally fall into one of two categories: long-winded and historically exhausting, or more succinct, efficient and with just enough weirdness. Bleeding Edge falls into the latter category. The humor (both overt and cloaked in absurdity) comes at you from every corner if you’re paying attention, and at nearly 500 pages, it’s a challenge. But if you can stick with this whirling dervish of a story, you will be rewarded.