Past Crimes

Severn House. Feb. 2024. 288p. ISBN 9781448312122. $29.99. SF
It’s 2037, and people are abandoning the decaying planet for Earth+, a virtual world in which to spend one’s time. Just barely eking out a living in the physical world, Cassie West and her husband, Harris, remain hopeful for the future, but their dreams are dashed when Harris is held accountable for thousands of deaths in an incident known as “the Blight.” A decade later and still dealing with the fallout of the Blight, Cassie becomes a target in the real and the virtual worlds as she races to save the lives of thousands and uncover the truth. An insightful examination of true-crime entertainment, Pinter’s novel also stands as a condemnation of gleaning excitement through other’s misery. With a narrative flavor reminiscent of Ready Player One, it nevertheless lacks a similar descriptive charm, owing to prose that tells more than it shows. Stilted character dialogue further dampens the experience, making it a haphazard race toward the conclusion rather than a carefully laid-out journey.
VERDICT Despite its weaknesses, this sci-fi thriller from Pinter (A Stranger at the Door) is recommended for fans of Ernest Cline and the crime thrillers of James Patterson and Lee Goldberg.
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