Fools' Experiments is a good near-future hard-SF thriller, with decent writing and flat characters. I could never tell the male characters apart -- Jim, Glenn, Doug -- and constantly got confused about who was on deck in a particular scene.
Which is too bad, but the story-line was strong enough to carry me past this traditional SF failing. I'd rather have good writing and good characterization too, but I'll take one like this, where the Idea is King. Fools' Experiments is a reprise of the familiar "what-if an AI emerges and takes over cyberspace" idea, well thought out and pretty scary too. A traditional cautionary tale, and one that's likely to reach its intended audience. Who knows, Lerner's book might keep us from making the same mistakes, if AI ever does emerge. A memorable and appropriate title by a writer with a strong technical background.
See Dave Truesdale's good review (in first comment) for the details. Truesdale's tastes are similar to mine, and his best-of-year recommendations here are solid.
Peter D. Tillman