Crown, 2015, 384 pages
Step into the fold. It's perfectly safe.
The folks in Mike Erikson's small New England town would say he's just your average, everyday guy. And that's exactly how Mike likes it. Sure, the life he's chosen isn't much of a challenge to someone with his unique gifts, but he's content with his quiet and peaceful existence. That is until an old friend presents him with an irresistible mystery, one that Mike is uniquely qualified to solve.
Far out in the California desert, a team of DARPA scientists has invented a device they affectionately call the Albuquerque Door. Using a cryptic computer equation and magnetic fields to "fold" dimensions, it shrinks distances so a traveler can travel hundreds of feet with a single step. The invention promises to make mankind's dreams of teleportation a reality. And, the scientists insist, traveling through the door is completely safe. Yet evidence is mounting that this miraculous machine isn't quite what it seems - and that its creators are harboring a dangerous secret.
As his investigations draw him deeper into the puzzle, Mike begins to fear there's only one answer that makes sense. And if he's right, it may be only a matter of time before the project destroys...everything. A cunningly inventive mystery featuring a hero worthy of Sherlock Holmes and a terrifying final twist you'll never see coming, The Fold is that rarest of things: a genuine pause-resister science-fiction thriller. Step inside its audio and learn why author Peter Clines has already won legions of loyal fans.
I've enjoyed all of Peter Clines's books, which are basically popcorn entertainment that read a lot like an RPG campaign, but in a good sense, not like some of the more cringey novels some authors have written that really were based on an RPG campaign.
The Fold is a sequel to 14, but aside from a few references that previous readers will catch, like the green cockroaches, it really is a completely stand-alone novel; you will miss absolutely nothing by not having read the previous book. They're really just two stories taking place in the same world.
As with 14, this book presents us with some fairly normal characters (aside from the protagonist with cinematic "eidetic memory" that functions almost as a superpower) who are plunged into an abnormal situation that starts out a little strange, and then as the clues come together, goes completely sideways and upside down.
Mike, a high school science teacher, is recruited by an old friend who knows that he's actually a supergenius with perfect recall, to go investigate a DARPA project that claims to have built a working teleportation device. The device actually works - or so it seems - but Mike is pretty sure it's not working exactly the way the scientists on the project say it is.
You may immediately be thinking of all the potential twists that will be thrown at us. The Fly? Horrible transporter accidents like in the first Star Trek movie? Alternate dimensions? Wormholes to hell? The fun thing about this book is that the characters are all genre savvy nerds, so they think of these things too.
The actual thing that happens is somewhere in that neighborhood (and more predictable if you have read 14), but with some creative twists that still spring surprises until the end.
Also by Peter Clines: My reviews of Ex-Heroes, Ex-Patriots, Ex-Communication, Ex-Purgatory, and 14.
My complete list of book reviews.