Crown, out June 2nd (US)
When scientists claim to have found a way of instantaneously crossing vast distances, Mike Erickson is asked to investigate – surely it seems too good to be true…
Having not read any of Peter Clines’ earlier work (which includes the EX series of books about superheroes), I wasn’t sure what to expect from The Fold, and was delighted to find myself enthralled by the plot, the characters and the writing style. With the release of Jurassic World, there’s a lot of talk about Michael Crichton at the moment and there must be at least half a dozen books in the review pile whose publicists claim that they are written by an heir to Crichton. For once, however, this is a book that deserves that accolade: a mix of scientific extrapolation, fast-paced plotting, surprising twists, clues for the savvy reader (you may well guess the central twist at the same time as the protagonist, even if he doesn’t reveal it till later after he has gathered sufficient evidence), and credible characters.
The central character, Mike, is the fortunate (or not so fortunate) possessor of an eidetic memory, able to recall everything from any point in his life. While this means he only has to see a movie once to be able to replay it in his head, it also means that anything he’s seen of the nastier side of life is also constantly there, without the benefit of the healing power of time. Although this facet is important to the plot, Clines doesn’t cheat and make everything dependent on it: the clues that give away what’s happening are in plain sight for anyone to put together, and the Trek fan in me loves the fact that one of them is predicated around a key second season episode of the original series! There are plenty of other pop culture references: unsurprisingly, The Fly turns up as does Stargate, pretty much at the time that a genre-knowledgeable reader would be thinking of them.
Clines escalates the scale and tension of the story gradually, drawing the reader in, occasionally blindsiding them with what appears to be errors that are anything but. With a very intriguing final twist that adds a whole new dimension to the novel, this is hopefully just the first story to feature Erickson.
Verdict: A thoroughly enjoyable smart science fiction thriller. 9/10