Book Review: The 22 Murders Of Madison May - Max Barry

by @edent | # # #

Yellow book cover.

Felicity Staples hates reporting on murders. As a journalist for a mid-size New York City paper, she knows she must take on the assignment to research Madison May's shocking murder, but the crime seems random and the suspect is in the wind. That is, until Felicity spots the killer on the subway, right before he vanishes.
Soon, Felicity senses her entire universe has shifted. No one remembers Madison May, or Felicity's encounter with the mysterious man. And her cat is missing. Felicity realizes that in her pursuit of Madison's killer, she followed him into a different dimension - one where everything about her existence is slightly altered. At first, she is determined to return to the reality she knows, but when Madison May - in this world, a struggling actress - is murdered again, Felicity decides she must find the killer - and learns that she is not the only one hunting him.

This is a great sci-fi murder mystery - which doesn't quite fulfil its potential. It's "Sliders" - where the gang are chasing an obsessed murder who keep leaping from life to life, putting things right, that once went wrong world to world, killing the same woman over and over again.

It's a fun ride. Less preachy than Barry's previous book "Jennifer Government" - but a good deal more grisly. The characters are occasionally aware of the metanarrative surrounding their actions, which makes their decisions particularly entertaining.

The exposition in the middle is a little clunky. Our heroine literally walks up to a professor and says "tell me how multiple world works. Oh, and do you know anyone who has done it?" Which is a bit too convenient for my liking. And yet, at the same time, the mechanism for shifting between worlds is never really explored in detail. There are some fabulous hints about what's really going on - and how long it has been going on for - but it seems to peter out. Perhaps something to be explored in a sequel?

It compares favourably to “The Shining Girls” by Lauren Beukes - at least in this book the protagonists actually understand the "supernatural" mechanism which is facilitating the murders.

If you like your sci-fi to be Earth-bound and a bit stabby - this is the book for you!

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy. The book is released in a few weeks and can be pre-ordered using the following links:

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