In this beach-friendly, noir-infused (and Netflix-bound), science fiction thriller we first encounter Barry Sutton, a booze-guzzling New York cop in 2018 who lost his daughter in a road accident eleven years previously. One night, Sutton fails to stop the death by suicide of a woman who is afflicted with a recently discovered disease called False Memory Syndrome, which causes people to suddenly remember an alternative history of personal events. The case seems open and shut, but the woman’s death is intriguing enough to the policeman that he resolves to investigate further, with immediately alarming consequences.
Helena Smith, meanwhile, is a brilliant scientist in 2007 whose mother is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. Desperate to help her parent, she is attempting to find “a way to save memories for deteriorating brains that can no longer retrieve them. A time capsule for core memories.” Salvation seemingly comes in the form of Marcus Slade, an Elon Musk-like inventor and massively wealthy tech industry bigwig who promises her virtually unlimited funding to help her quest. The catch? Slade insists Smith conduct her research in complete secrecy on a former oil rig off the coast of northern California.
We won’t spoil how author Blake Crouch (The Wayward Pines Trilogy) ties these two plots together. Suffice it to say that, having tackled the subject of alternative dimensions in 2017’s Dark Matter, the author tackles another familiar science fiction trope here. And, as was the case with that previous book, he breathes fresh life into the matters with a mix of heart, intelligence, and philosophical musings, as the reader is invited to ponder the importance of memory to, well, everything. Recursion is definitely one not to forget when you’re packing for vacation. B+
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