Leland ‘Mike’ Erickson is quite happy with his high school job teaching American Literature in New England. He doesn’t want to go help his long-time friend Reggie Magnus out on his super secret DARPA project in sunny California. Yet somehow he is swept up into it and can’t help but want to solve the puzzle set before him. The DARPA scientists have found a way to travel hundreds of feet in a single step. This new science may revolutionize how the world travels. As exciting as it seems on the surface, Mike suspects there is more going on.
Mike is a very interesting main character. He has an eidetic memory, which basically means he has full recall of anything he witnesses. He likens this awesome recall to different tribes in his ants in his head, marching out with this info, collating that data, organizing random bits of info into a pattern. This unique gift, and sometimes curse, is what Reggie wants on the Albuquerque Door project, which is a cute code name for the instant matter transfer technology that Arthur Cross and his team are developing. So Mike gets on scene, and it’s obvious the team is guarded. They don’t want to share any of the code, the tech, the formulas, but they are willing to give demonstrations. These alone are quite impressive. Still, there are little things niggling away at Mike and he continues to ask questions.
The DARPA team is made up of some interesting characters as well. Jamie is the lead software tech while Sasha and Neal are engineers. I don’t quite recall what Bob does, but he’s a friendly sort and helps Mike get settled in one of the on-site trailers. Anne is the team’s secretary and doesn’t know any specifics of the project, but she does know which donuts to order for whom. Arthur is the elderly physicist who runs the group and whose word is law. Olaf is another physicist and a bit of an ass. Quite often I was amused by his dismissive way towards the rest of the team. It would be infuriating in real life, but in fiction it adds some humor. The plot thickens when one of the team dies. It’s pretty gruesome and comes with all sorts of questions.
When Mike finally gets to the root of what the DARPA team is hiding, he is stunned. I was stunned to. The book definitely took a turn I wasn’t expecting. At first, I wasn’t sure I liked it. We have this solid scifi thriller and it looked like we were taking a turn into fantasy. Then the author does a bit of a save and things feel like they come back to the scifi thriller I have been enjoying. So, in the end, I was OK with the surprise twist. After that twist is revealed (and I settled into it), I could appreciate the magnitude of true trouble the team, and perhaps everyone on Earth, was in. Things got creepy and I reveled in several scenes where our main characters were having to deal with things out of nightmares.
The pacing is real good, and always kept me engaged in the story. There’s mystery from the beginning that got me hooked. Mike was a very interesting main character. Plus the ending leaves the door open for more adventures featuring Mike. Overall, I am very glad I gave this book a go and look forward to checking out more of the author’s works.
Narration: Ray Porter was a great voice for Mike. He sounded both clever and laid back. He had that inquisitive air about him without being pushy. For the most part, he had distinct voices for the other characters, though his voices for Sasha and Jamie often sounded alike to me. I really liked his condescending voice for Olaf.