It can be a crap shoot with Kindle First Reads, I know this. I once read a First Reads where the setting was high fantasy and everyone had weird, fantasy names except for one broad named Carol or Linda or something equally immersion disruptive. Unfortunately, this book also falls into the category of “glad I didn’t have to pay for this”.
The premise is so good, though, with so much potential. But then again, I unabashedly loved Minority Report, so the summary that got me hooked checked all my boxes. In a not so distant future, technology has advanced to where memories can be harvested for remote viewing by other people. At first this tech is only used for homicide detectives to solve cases, where detectives relive a victim’s last moments in hopes of catching a glimpse of the killer. Obviously there is untapped capitalism potential in this new invention; soon there’s a new type of addict – the person that obsessively watches memories from the POV of their favorite celebrity, their favorite fetish, their favorite way to die, you get the idea.
A serial killer is on the loose, taunting detectives in the final memories of his victims. He leaves a poem hidden in the crime scene in each brutal slaying. Detective Barnes is the current lead on the case as the last detectives went crazy from the repeated trips down memory lane. But, Barnes is also cracking up, which each of the victims taking up a place of residence in his brain long after he’s disconnected from the machine.
So far as good, right? The premise is so good that it’s a shame it doesn’t live up to the high hopes I had for it. My first issue was that nothing takes me out of a mystery/suspense plot faster than when the secret message the killer has been leaving is conveniently finished after the last body is found. Imagine if Pat Sajak went on a murder spree, he would let detectives solve the puzzle without trying every letter, I’m sure. It takes all the “will they, won’t they” suspense out if all the vowels have been bought, obviously there won’t be another killing. So once the detective figures out the last poem has the last number of the storage container the killer is living in (yep, it’s as random as that), why the rush? He finished his dumb message, so what’s he going to do? Start back at the beginning like some pre-recorded message?
My other issue is the so obvious it hurts connection to Barnes’ last unsolved case that just haunts him so much that he brings it up randomly and this couldn’t possibly come up later, could it? And this case contains the *TWIST* that so much modern mysteries over-rely on. (See my review of Behind Her Eyes for a more in-depth look at my hatred of this ongoing, out of hand M. Night Shyamalan parody.) It kind of destroys all the meaning that the original killer had, that we learned so much about him and the hows and whys of what he did to just turn around and say, nope! Just kidding!