When a man returns home to care for his dying father, he’s sucked into a vast conspiracy involving his estranged childhood best friend and a paranoid (or is he?) teenager at a mental hospital.
History teacher Jack Felter wanted to leave his whole past behind in Franklin Mills, Ohio—his first love, Samantha; his one-time closest confidant, Tony; his tangled family relationships—but when his father, nicknamed “The Captain,” spirals further into dementia, Jack leaves his new life in Cleveland to help his sister, Jean, with caregiving duties. The Captain, a former pilot and Vietnam vet, is lost in a fog of wartime memories, and Jack must contend with his father's diminishing capacity without the help of Tony, who disappeared three years before. A long-ago betrayal split the best friends and Sam apart, but Jack’s feelings for Sam burn hot, and he agrees to help her find Tony; his search leads him to Tony’s job at Haven Hospital and Tony’s last patient, 16-year-old Cole Monroe. It’s here that Renner (The Man from Primrose Lane, 2012, etc.) shifts to a more audacious storyline, one that not all readers will embrace. Cole draws Jack into a mysterious world of alternate histories centered on the Great Forgetting, where, for example, the Allies lost World War II, and time is reset every so often because larger malevolent forces control our collective minds. It’s heady stuff—Jack, Cole, and the Captain eventually set off for the mythical island of Mu, where the inhabitants still “remember” world events and where Tony might be hiding—and it doesn’t always succeed.
A fascinating concept that’s not entirely well-executed but is worth the read.