In Irish-born Patrick's tantalizing debut sci-fi thriller, criminal investigations feature a new breed of specialists with the ability to briefly resuscitate murder and accident victims and ask them whodunit (or what-dunit).
Young Jonah Miller is the top-rated reviver—the most skilled at bonding with the dead and the most sensitive in ensuring that family members get a chance to say goodbye to their loved ones. But Jonah's special abilities make him vulnerable to dark forces that leave him with frightening visions. He and his colleague at the Forensic Revival Service also must contend with mortal opponents, including the afterlifers, who regard revivals as desecration, and a secret conspiracy poised to take revivals to a dangerous extreme. And then there is the military's secret policy of killing suspected terrorists so revivers can interrogate them. Patrick depicts the world of revivers in vivid detail. Jonah must take a special drug in increasing doses to alleviate the physical aftereffects of connecting with the dead and wipe out the psychological "remnants" of such encounters. The touch of a reviver can cause a nonreviver to experience a "chill"—at its worst, "a taint of death and a deep fear." Revivers are required to take periods of downtime called "tails" to ward off burnout. The book features an alluring femme fatale in Tess, a beauty Jonah fell for as a teenager who mysteriously appears out of nowhere, and another strong romantic interest in Annabel, a reporter investigating the murder of her father, who wrote a best-seller about the first reviver a decade ago. When Patrick ramps up the supernatural component in the book, it becomes a more ordinary thriller.
This first installment in a planned trilogy is great in the setup and not so great in the home stretch, which may not bode well for Books 2 and 3.