In Goetz’s (Souls of Megiddo, Book 1: The Caretakers, 2012, etc.) thriller, a depraved doctor abducts a man with special abilities to turn his powers into a weapon.
Helicopter pilot Capt. Tim “Spooncake” McAllister has been able to hear people’s thoughts since his father’s suicide nearly 20 years earlier. In 1967 Vietnam, he also sees spears of varying colors above people’s heads, depending on moods, though he downplays his capabilities around others. But Dr. Oban DeCarlo, Tim’s cousin, knows what Tim can do and arranges a bogus mission so he can grab the pilot and take him to his New York island facility. There, DeCarlo develops a serum called Traumland, a weaponized version of Tim’s telepathic ability. The doc hopes to create a Dream Traveller, someone who can “eliminate an adversary by simply using his mind.” DeCarlo only needs Tim’s power; he has no plans of letting his cousin leave the island alive. Goetz’s novel consistently blends the supernatural with real life, as in its opening in the midst of the Vietnam War, where Tim “preferred the near-quiet solitude of his small plot of sand on the banks of the Mekong to the cacophony of thought noise and intrusive color spikes he’d be subjected to in crowds and bustle of Saigon.” Goetz likewise manages a steady tempo via alternating scenes: Tim’s helicopter being shot down by the Vietcong is intercut with DeCarlo racing to the crash, fearful that the colonel he hired to ensnare Tim will simply kill him. The doctor also kidnaps Linda Fisher, who has the ability to sense future events. But DeCarlo’s primary interest is in Tim, who is subjected to numerous tests and, with memories erased, is a captive at the facility for a lengthy section of the book. It’s here that the story slows down considerably. Small details—Linda’s surname alternates between Fisher and Fischer, and ages are sometimes miscalculated—could use a cleanup, too. But there’s romance for Tim and Linda, as well as time for the pilot, even in a dream state, to hone his skill. Best of all, Tim’s dream traveling brings to light his terrifying evil side, Demon, the name the VC gave him for his mastery at finding enemy soldiers. DeCarlo is an unforgettable villain, a lanky albino with black eyes, often decked out in a white suit and sporting symptoms of a sociopath. Flashbacks with the doc and Tim, however, generate sympathy for both: Tim’s grandfather helped him control his powers, while DeCarlo’s parents were so ashamed of him that he was locked in a room and not allowed outside.
A thriller with a touch of the supernatural and a rock-solid pace.