By: Jay Caselberg
309 pages (Paperback)
While pursuing an investigation for a large corporation, Psychic Investigator Jack Stein uncovers something more mind-blowing than he ever expected.
This was a fun mystery with a sci-fi twist, or perhaps a cool sci-fi story with a mystery twist? Regardless, the combination of mystery and science fiction worked well and it read a lot like an urban fantasy. So, I guess you could call this urban science fiction.
Psychic Investigator Jack Stein is your run-of-the-mill scruffy investigator, but his psychic work is interesting, and not something you would expect in the context of the story. He uses dreams, impressions, and dumb luck to figure things out.
The story is set in a “quasi-organic, self-feeding urban environment” known as the Locality, which was probably the best thing about the book. I’m a fan of world-building and I hadn’t come across anything like it before. Maybe I need to read more science fiction though. The New end of the Locality is shiny and fashionable while the Old end crumbles and decays. There’s plenty of technology and furniture can even be programed to grow out of the walls when needed. I’d love to explore such a place.
Alchemy and science are tied together wonderfully in this story, with the past and future coming together and making sense. It’s nice to have something rooted in history when you’re dealing with a futuristic world. It connects the story back to reality in a grounding sort of way.
However, there was one problem with the history and science: the research. The author did his research, there’s no denying that, but it often felt that he just copy-and-pasted it into the story. There were quotes from various sources but they didn’t seem to be an organic part of the story. The worst thing about it was the footnotes. I don’t know if they were there as part of the story or just because the author was legally required to give credit, but they were distracting. If it was necessary for legal purposes, then there’s nothing he could have done about it, but if it was part of the story, it didn’t quite make sense, primarily because of the dates on the publications. As part of the story, it doesn’t seem right that most of his sources are from the mid 1990s. In a futuristic world, you’d expect a little more variety in dates when it comes to research. It takes you out of the story, but if it’s about credit, then I guess it can’t be helped, although perhaps they could have put them at the back of the book so you know that it’s not supposed to be a part of the story.
I’d give this one a solid like. I liked it enough to add the other few Jack Stein novels to my ever-growing book list, especially since I like having some good quick books to read. I need something to help break up all the epic fantasy series and protracted space operas. Until next time…