This fascinating thriller wonders: What if you couldn’t tie your shoes, walk down the street or save your own life without being told to do so?
Heading home from a work-related trip, Ryan Butler, a Philadelphia attorney, gets stuck in gridlock outside Baltimore and opts for a detour through the Maryland countryside. After making a wrong turn during a passing thunderstorm, he finds himself driving through a small town that seems vaguely familiar. Cruising down the picturesque streets hoping to get directions, Ryan notices an insurance agency sporting a name from his past: Steve Shannon. He takes this ordinary coincidence as an opportunity to catch up and maybe even revive their diminished friendship. Ryan doesn’t know, though, that misfortune just struck Steve’s family, leaving his new wife in financial turmoil. After Ryan discovers that something similar happened to a man in California, he’s doubly determined to find out exactly what happened to Steve. He tosses aside his burgeoning law career in order to further investigate the curious incidents. The impetuous decision may have inadvertently led Ryan into the middle of a CIA coup and a national security breech at the hands of a defected government agent who threatens the safety of the United States. The intriguing storyline moves at breakneck speed over the course of a few weeks, beginning with a captivating preface that will immediately seize the reader’s attention. Comfortable, simple language allows for easy concentration on the story without overthinking, even as nostalgia creeps in when the story, set in 1986, references outdated items like phone booths and microfilm projectors, which older readers might appreciate. However, despite the virtues, ham-fisted transitions and awkward syntax create a somewhat unpolished narrative.
The solid, well-grounded premise overcomes its imperfect presentation.