Macmillan, out now
Former conjoined twin Taema must play a dangerous game if she is to prove her sister innocent of murder…
Having had the pleasure of copy editing a couple of Laura Lam’s earlier books, I knew that she had a keen sense of character and place, and False Hearts demonstrates those talents admirably in this strong tale. It’s set a few decades in the future – we gradually get the backstory as the book unfolds – in a San Francisco that’s very different from today’s West Coast, but where human nature hasn’t changed as much as some might like to believe. There are some very clever concepts simply mentioned in passing that help add to the credible nature of the future she creates.
The story is jointly narrated by twins Taema and Tila, the former concentrating on what she learns about her sister’s hidden life, the latter (in jail) penning a diary that explains their backgrounds and how that plays into their current situation. Lam carefully ensures that the revelations in each part affect how the reader regards both girls – and on occasion gives you the chance to be a few steps ahead of either one as you put the pieces together in your own mind.
On top of all that, there’s a mystery to be solved, and Lam also handles this element well.
There’s an almost noir-ish air to some of it, and I’d love to see more of this side of Pacifica in any sequels.
Verdict: A well-constructed and enjoyable SF detective novel. 8/10