A Korean-American girl’s sister is mysteriously murdered.
Winter Kim and her sister, Rose, have come a long way from the Korean orphanage. The siblings were brought to the United States illegally and sold into prostitution at a young age. Gideon Seung, a fellow Korean and Rose’s ex-boyfriend, saved and moved them across the country to Saint Louis. Here Gideon runs a successful tech company called Escape, which produces Vicarious Sensory Experiences. The sisters work as digital stunt artists for Gideon, doing everything from bungee jumping to committing robberies. When Rose disappears and a ViSE of her murder is delivered to Gideon’s office, Winter is devastated and swears to unveil her sister’s killer. The ensuing mystery is built upon some smart twists and turns and supported by some smart sci-fi worldbuilding. Complementing the mystery is a slow-burn love story between Winter and Mexican-American Jesse Ramirez, a fellow stunt artist. Their relationship is tender and complicated, with enough tension to sustain itself and enough heat to pop when things pay off. Less satisfying is the author’s decision to turn Winter into an unreliable narrator, an idea that’s planted early but doesn’t mesh well with the rest of what’s going on. By novel’s end readers will be satisfied with the mystery’s conclusion, but the gymnastics it takes to get there are apparent.
An ambitious sci-fi mystery that falls just short of great. (Science fiction. 14-17)