Monday, August 13, 2012

A quantum murder

Peter F. Hamilton
Pan Books, 1994 (my copy is from Pan Books, 1994)
Size: Average (my copy has 376 pages)
Theme: Futuristic mystery
Narrative: third-person
Main character: Greg Mandel
Recommended minimum age: Teenager
Would purchase as a gift to any sci-fi reader: YES

As the second of three books in the Greg Mandel series, this novel follows again the adventures of Greg Mandel, an ex-mindstar operative, bolstering an ‘espersense’ through an implanted gland that enables him to sense other people’s feelings and emotions. After having retired after the storyline of the previous book, and trying to lead a quiet life with Elaine, he is brought back to active status to help Julia with problems at Event Horizon.

This time, the plot revolves around the brutal murder of a reclusive and very rich quantum cosmology scientist, double Nobel laureate for his discoveries which paved the way for technology such as the giga-conductor cells, and who was now working secretly on basics of stardrive technology for Event Horizon. The ritualistic assassination leaves everyone baffled as the isolated mansion was sealed tight and a heavy storm was blowing outside. The 6 resident young research assistants are all suspects, but are quickly cleared by Greg. Curiously, the murder setup has uncanny similarities with the technique of a mass murder psychopath who has been incarcerated for years.

As one could expect, the literary style, the fast plot pace, and the attention to detail are similar to those in the previous story. I greatly enjoyed reading through this book, as it brings detective stories into a futuristic perspective. I also found it to have a little more gore and sexual references than the previous novel. I was hardly able to put the book down each night and have already started reading through the third and final installment.

Related work:

This is book 2 of 3 in the Greg Mandel series (Hamilton’s first); it was preceded by “Mindstar rising” and is followed by "The nano flower". As the previous book, it can be read as a single novel, although here I would clearly suggest having read the preceding book first.

*** Spoiler Alert ***
(Warning: the following text contains information that may hamper/ruin how much you enjoy the book):

The unlikely murderer is found to be Nicholas, on whom a mind-altering procedure was employed by psychiatrist James MacLennan in order to have him murder Kitchener without being aware of it. This discovery is made through the use of a developer drug that Kitchener was working on, and which mimicked Gabriel’s ability to see through time, enabling Greg and Elaine to observe the past and actually watch the murder take place. This is also found to be the motive behind the murder, as MacLennan wanted to prevent the accidental discovery of a crime he had committed early in his career.

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