In this sequel, a physics teacher becomes a prime suspect when a colleague’s death cues a new wave of crimes inspired by mental feats of quantum reality-bending.
Imagine if Janet Evanovich had given Stephanie Plum a science-teaching degree and you might have a handle on the series that began with Quantum Cop (2016). It’s been more than a year since young Boulder, Colorado, college instructor Madison Martin learned that with a little mind power, adrenaline, and physics, just about anyone can alter reality via “q-lapsing”: choosing a preferred outcome from quantum-uncertainty particle/wave duality. In practical terms, that means teleportation, transmutation of matter, telekinesis, and other wizardlike stuff (hard and fast ground rules of q-lapsing are weak at best). In the first book, a nationwide outbreak of “quantum crimes” resulted from a small number of Madison’s avaricious students misusing the talent. Now readers are told all of that has largely been forgotten or covered up (which seems almost as unlikely as q-lapse itself). Then a science colleague Madison didn’t even know turns up dead on campus, horribly murdered, and police suspect her. Meanwhile, Madison’s passionate faculty lover, Andro Rivas—whom she secretly taught q-lapse—has begun acting moody and distant without explanation. Is he a part of the crime? Are the undergraduate villains who were defeated in Quantum Cop somehow back again? Will the hunky new policeman with a stellar body who’s on the case exert a sexier gravitational pull on Madison than unpredictable Andro? There are some clever red herrings and feints here, if perhaps one too many trips to the well of characters and incidents from the first novel. Demarcations between rom-com silliness and the deadly serious are often as indistinct as the ones separating particles and waveforms. Smith (Kat Cubed, 2016, etc.) is a physicist in real life (following up the narrative with a short essay on quantum-mechanical weirdness), and she skillfully flavors the far-fetched stuff with references to such concepts as eigenvalues and the Bose-Einstein Condensate. The temptation is to say that things flip between the quirky and the quarky. But sci-fi fans who like their chick-lit thrillers blended with a Ph.D. should find the formula enjoyable.
A light and whimsical sci-fi whodunit with a college campus backdrop.