by Christopher Farnsworth
Cover Artist: Design: Owen Corrigan; Head by CSA Images / Getty Images.
Review by Bill Lawhorn
William Morrow Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062416407
Date: 09 August 2016 List Price $25.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
There are some people you shouldn't mess with. John Smith has a special ability. One that makes him very formidable. He is hired to find out if a tech whiz stole a secret from a former employer. Working for the very rich has benefits, but when the target strikes back, John is left with few options and on the run. It would be hopeless for anyone else, but John wants his life back and a bit of revenge.
Early on, it is shown that John is able to hear people's thoughts. He can sense when people are focusing on him. This ability allows him to know people's secrets and to protect himself. He gets jobs through recommendations, and is known to be one of the best. This leads Everett Sloan, a tech Billionaire to investigate if Eli Preston stole the secret behind Sloan's success.
John thinks this will be another easy case, but if it were simple, there wouldn't be a story. When John and Sloan's assistant Kelsey are with Preston, a notification is sent to Preston about John. John and Kelsey need to escape and get back to Sloan. This is made more difficult as the full power of Preston's algorithms are turned to tracking and eliminating John and Kelsey. Unfortunately, for Preston, John has a lot of friends. Their game of cat and mouse will play out around the globe.
This was a fast paced thriller. The action was offset with backstory that describes how John became the man he is at the start of the story. The dynamic between John and Kelsey is also pretty good. It would be very difficult to travel and work with someone who can see your every thought. She finds her own way to keep John at bay.
I really enjoyed the exploration of how his ability to read minds affected his life. The games that people play with his life are not too farfetched as some leaders view people as pawns who can either be advanced or sacrificed. John doesn't like being a pawn and he knows how to use what he's learned to great effect.
Although the results of the game are satisfying, I did find myself thinking that John may have missed a few opportunities to make things easier on himself. It wasn't to the point where I was thinking just shoot him in the head, but there were a couple of close calls.
Overall this novel did its job. It was entertaining and played with the metahuman trope quite well. This is not part of an ongoing series so it is there is no bar to entry. This novel can stand alone, or it could lead to future adventures. I would definitely read more from Farnsworth in this world or not.