In a world where long-term memory is a thing of the past, investigating a murder becomes a daunting prospect indeed.
In Yap’s debut, set in 2015 England, a protein responsible for long-term memory is genetically inhibited for everyone when they're either 18 or 23, creating Monos and Duos, respectively. Everyone must keep a daily iDiary to consult regularly. Mark and Claire Evans have been married for 20 years, but they can’t say it’s a strong union. After all, homemaker Claire is a Mono, which means she can only remember what happened yesterday, and Mark, an author with political aspirations, is a Duo who can remember two days into the past. To most Duos, marrying a Mono is a quick way to become a social pariah, as Monos are largely considered to be less intelligent. When the body of stunning Sophia Ayling is discovered in the River Cam, Mark is questioned by the police because they find his name in her iDiary, setting off a disastrous chain of events. The narrative moves between past and present and back and forth among Mark, Claire, Sophia’s iDiary entries, and the detective investigating the murder, DCI Hans Richardson. Not one of these characters is appealing. Mark is a selfish jerk; Claire is self-demeaning to the point of farce; Sophia, who is revealed to be a romantic (and wronged) blast from Mark’s past, is cartoonish; and DCI Richardson’s inner monologue is plodding, giving him something of a Columbo vibe, but not in a good way. The central conceit, surely meant to be edgy, doesn’t add anything to a thoroughly unimaginative murder mystery, and if someone were up to no good, all they’d have to do is alter their diaries and no one would be the wiser, making the truth elusive and the possibility of justice remote.
A twist in the final act can’t save this over-the-top revenge tale.