A deadly agent assigned to track down and terminate dangerous, gifted fugitives finds society’s landscape shifting beneath his feet.
What if 1 percent of the world’s children were born with powerful gifts? How would society adapt to their presence? Those are just some of the big questions behind this visceral, inventive thriller by prolific crime writer Sakey (The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes, 2011, etc.). It’s set in a future where non-neurotypical people (demonized as “twists” by society) are threatening the status quo of the “normal” population with their unique gifts. Divorcé Nick Cooper is a noirish government agent who works for the dully named Department of Analysis and Response in a U.S.–funded agency, Equitable Services. His job is to track down criminals who use their gifts for ill. These aren’t the well-worn tropes of the superhero genre—for example, Cooper’s gift is for predictive analysis, allowing him to see what will happen before it happens and react. It’s a vision that offers up bone-crunching violence and a plausible future that is far more terrifying than it might seem on the surface. We first meet Cooper as he’s engaging an abnorm in a pitched rooftop chase. Before plunging to her death, she warns Cooper, “You can’t stop the future. All you can do is pick a side.” The book is ultimately about a standoff between a terrorist who dubs himself “John Smith,” Cooper, and a woman, Shannon Azzi, who may or may not be on Smith’s side. But in the telling, Sakey pulls off every trick in the book, from staccato dialogue to jaw-dropping plot reversals—he even engages in some worldbuilding by seeding the book with eerie interstitial elements like news reports and advertisements that help portray a world going to hell in real time. It’s a dizzying ride in which the novel’s execution is as nimble as its freaky ideas.
A farsighted thriller about what happens when people really do think differently.