Orion, out now
What connects a woman who believes she is being followed, a strangely familiar person encountered on a trip to New York, and a priest whose flock is very wide-ranging?
I suspect we’ve all had that feeling at some point: you come back into a room and things aren’t as you remember leaving them, although there’s no one else in the house. Or you pick up your drink in a bar, and there’s less left than you could have sworn that there would be. We put it down to forgetfulness, being distracted – or even the effects of age – but what if there were a different reason for the changes? In his new novel, Michael Marshall suggests that there is.
We Are Here is one of those novels whose central conceit you don’t want spoiled by reviewers, but suffice it to say that it continues Marshall’s fascination with the things that you don’t quite see properly out of the corner of your eye (as illustrated by the cover). It’s told on a broad canvas: we encounter some familiar faces from a previous novel but they are only one thread among many. Some sections are first person narrative, others third, which helps to maintain the scope, and answers aren’t doled out easily. Marshall doesn’t spoon feed the reader, and indeed he has left plenty of potential for a follow-up that explores things further. There’s an obvious fascination with conspiracy theories here tinged with the supernatural: it might not be The Government responsible for what’s happening, but there seems to be some kind of unseen directing power, and accordingly an air of dread permeates much of the book.
“A man is the sum of his memories” goes the claim; in this enthralling, intelligent thriller, Michael Marshall wonders what happens if those memories become too powerful to be forgotten. Highly recommended. 9/10
Watch for our interview with Michael Marshall early next week