Saturday, November 8, 2014
'Mortal Insight' by E. B. James
Detective Sergeant Steve Keller has begun to see things. He desperately hopes the visions mean something and not that he's going crazy. But the visions don't go away, and when they start meaning something more, Steve finds himself caught in an investigation way bigger than he ever imagined. As the pieces begin to fit together, something dangerous emerges. He can't hide what he knows, but to expose it doesn't just stir up controversy, it provokes someone who lurks in the shadows; someone who will kill to keep this information quiet. Mortal Insight, E.B. James new novel, brings you conspiracy, crime, action and asks the question: when your life is at stake, are some truths worth bringing out into the open?
I thoroughly enjoyed this unpredictable plot. It was great having no idea what might happen next. It's categorised as a detective/mystery story, and there's also a touch of the supernatural.
Detective Sergeant Steve Keller has started to see some weird phenomena on the job at sexual assault scenes. Although some believe his visions to be a stress reaction following a break-up with his wife, the accuracy with which he's able to predict potential perpetrators and victims indicates that there's more to it. He also has a very personal reason to believe the introduction of a new 'feel good' chemical, tanordebetian (TDB), added to non-alcoholic party drinks and the mains water supply, may help explain a heightened wave of sexual crime.
Steve is one of a handful of Davids trying to fathom the Goliath behind TDB. Others include his mother-in-law, Dorothy, who leads a group of social activists, Isaac, a local politician and his personal assistant, Nicole. It doesn't take long for them to work out that whoever wants them silenced is prepared to stoop to murder.
Are Steve's supernatural visions integral to the plot? I think the main storyline of the research being conducted could stand without this element, especially as he decides early on to keep quiet about it. However, it does make things more intense by revealing deeper truths which emphasise the stakes of their quest. Anyone who wonders about the significance of the front cover image will quickly figure it out.
I like the questions this book raises about the nature of our society. We've got to love the sort of novel that challenges us to think. Do groups, such as the Community Aware Group, cause more harm than good through the way they operate? Does their input extend to the reputations of others who side with their issues? Anybody would have to wonder whether they would even want the well-intentioned help of the CAG. And is it possible for anybody with integrity to last in politics over the long term?
May we sometimes be too quick to judge individuals for crimes without delving into all the extenuating facts? And to what extent does the media filter and spoon feed exactly what they want the public to know? To quote Steve's superior officer, Alan Pryor, in this story, 'they are notorious for twisting the facts to represent the agenda of whoever is paying their bills.' Do Davids really stand a chance against huge, corporate Goliaths?
If asked whether this story finishes with a 'good' or 'bad' ending, I have to say there's good reason to say both. That's just one of the surprises of this story. I hope E. B. James has more of this genre up her sleeve.