IRRATIONAL FEARS by Lee Lindauer

IRRATIONAL FEARS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

After a woman witnesses the murder of her good friend, she travels to Switzerland to find his missing daughter in this debut thriller.

Mallory Lowe, a math professor at the University of Colorado, meets her old friend and graduate adviser, Tom Haley, at the top of Angel’s Landing in Utah’s Zion National Park. Mallory met Tom nearly 20 years ago while she was working on her doctorate in mathematics at the University of Oklahoma, and after Tom’s wife passed away, Mallory and his adopted daughter, Katie, grew close. Tom and Katie’s relationship has suffered since his wife’s death, however, and recently, she hasn’t been responding to his calls. “Something’s wrong, I just know it,” he tells Mallory. “It’s my fault….She’ll be killed if the dam is blown up.” But before she can ask more questions and make sense of Tom’s ramblings, a helicopter descends and a man with a rifle pushes Tom to his death. Mallory makes it her mission to find and protect the 28-year-old Katie, who was in Switzerland after a stint in the Peace Corps, and find out more about the dam that Tom mentioned. After arriving in Switzerland, she becomes acquainted with Möbius, a large, corrupt, multinational corporation invested in private water utilities that may have something to do with the aforementioned dam. Lindauer creates an engaging narrative that integrates mathematics. For example, when Mallory first climbs the mountain, she repeats to herself, “arc length…curvature…tangential angle…arc length”; later, a series of mathematical symbols may contain the key to the mystery. In one scene, when asked why math fascinates her, Mallory responds with a simple explanation: it’s “the language of the universe.” Unfortunately, however, the suspenseful moments lack enough context to bring them to life; the characters’ surroundings are rarely described in detail, leaving too much to the readers’ imaginations. In addition, the omniscient third-person narration sometimes jarringly switches to Mallory’s thoughts without attribution: “She caught herself. Was she all of a sudden letting her guard down?...They had her in their sights three times. Don’t be a fool.”

A hard-to-follow thriller with an intriguing mathcentric storyline.

Page count: 356pp
Publisher: Story Merchant Books
Program: Kirkus Indie
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