ONE OF US by Michael Marshall Smith


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Attempting to build on the success of last year’s Spares, the London-based Smith serves up a nicely atmospheric but, in the end, overextended thriller about a caretaker of other people’s memories who suddenly finds himself on everyone’s most-wanted list. Hap Thompson leads a decidedly hapless life, drifting from roles of petty crook to armed robber to bartender until he discovers his unique talent for absorbing the anxiety dreams of others without being much affected himself. His shady occupation at REMtemp as the professional who can have your dreams for you, at a goodly price, makes him rich. But it also makes for trouble when he advances from a mere dreamcatcher to a manager-for-hire who can caretake clients— memories for a few hours: one day, he receives a woman’s recent memory of killing an L.A. cop that he’s unable to give back, thereby feeling compelled to track down the hard-drinking, suicidal Laura, proud owner of said memory. Perhaps inevitably, Hap runs afoul not only of a homicide detective, but also his boss, his virtual business manager, and some mysterious guys in suits. No sooner is he nabbed by the police, just as he’s about to acquire the device that will return Laura’s memory to her, than the suits come in with guns blazing: he’s lucky to escape with his life. And no sooner does he regroup with Laura than the suits return: this time, the firefight is disrupted by a white light that takes away everyone but Hap. Teaming up with his ex, a contract killer who still has a yen for him, and aided by yet another odd character whose presence seems part of his past, our hero learns that the dead cop was on the take and that REMtemp is involved. The biggest revelation, however, comes when he solves the mystery of his own life and realizes just who he’s been tangling with. Some eerie and inspired future-world touches. But heavy-handed deus-ex-machina action clobbers the story’s more delicate facets.

Pub Date: Aug. 10th, 1998
ISBN: 0-553-10605-8
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Bantam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15th, 1998