MacAvoy (Tea with the Black Dragon, 2014, etc.) and debut author Palmer offer a novel about a fugitive physicist and a renegade investigator who helps him.
As the story opens, Dr. Rob MacAulay is about to begin a job as a gardener at the Royal Dornoch Links golf course in Scotland. What is a man with doctorates in mathematics and quantum field physics doing in such a position? It turns out that he’s wanted by the “National Crime Agency: Anti-Terrorism Division,” but he’s an unlikely fugitive. The novel doesn’t present the circumstances of his alleged crime outright, but readers will guess from his gentle demeanor that he could hardly be guilty. Meanwhile, an American, Thomas Heddiman, provides special investigative assistance to the police in Edinburgh. He’s estranged from his famous, wealthy family, and although his last name causes his co-workers to whisper, his great work speaks for itself: he’s “broken three wide-spread financial hackings and one cyber bank job,” and is, without a doubt, an investigational and technological wizard. After a stranger tries to shoot him, though, he wonders why someone wants him dead. And after a bombing in London’s Piccadilly Circus, not even a man as shrewd as Thomas can say what the future holds. The authors then lead readers on a journey that becomes bizarre, to say the least. As Rob’s and Thomas’ paths cross, their destinies inevitably linked, the narrative shifts from being an ordinary man-on-the-run escapade to one that’s fantastical, spooky, and ultimately romantic. However, the story is slowed at first by a plethora of overexplanation; for example, does the reader really need to know the subtleties of Rob’s work at Royal Dornoch? Still, those who sympathize with the birdlike Rob will likely find themselves committed to seeing where his twisty adventure takes him. Even readers as intelligent as the story’s leads may not be prepared for its conclusion.
An unusual, if initially slow-going, story that offers a pairing that’s as creative as it is unexpected.