Today’s Bookbag title is a sci-fi thriller that combines time travel, mind reading, and good doses of humor.
Yesterday’s Thief by Al Macy is the first part of a series, all featuring a private investigator named Eric Beckman. This book is set in 2020, when self-driving cars, medical technology that allows for super-fast recovery, and energy shortages are the norm. But something definitely not the norm happens in the very first sentence.
The naked woman materialized behind the umpire during the first game of the playoffs.
That’s bizarre enough, but when she stays in a coma, Eric’s friends asks if Eric can get a read on her thoughts. And as the local mind reader, Eric agrees.
Before I continue with the plot, I will say Eric’s mind reading ability is a highlight of all of the Eric Beckman books, especially when certain secondary characters learn about it.
So Eric assesses the mysterious woman to decide if she’ll wake soon, and he describes the process a bit.
For some, I get a kind of static. None of those recover. Others have scattered, disorganized thoughts. The kind you or I might have when falling asleep, in what’s called a hypnogogic state. I’ll get things like <More Afro-Cuban mouse lies, please,> or <No equipment is really comfort proof.> The thoughts have a clear syntax but make less sense than Bob Dylan on LSD.
In my doctoral research I came across a number of patients with “locked-in” syndrome.” These poor souls are in there having normal thoughts but are paralyzed with no way of communicating with the outside world. Some can move their eyes or blink, but occasionally their physicians don’t realize they are conscious. In those cases, I’d whisper in the guy’s ear, “Don’t worry, buddy. I know you’re in there. We’ll figure out a way for you to communicate.” Of course, I’d get everyone else out of the room first. Wouldn’t want people to think I’m some kind of weird psychic.
Where was the woman-from-nowhere on this continuum? Somewhere in the middle.
He hears thoughts that aren’t in English, but he can’t tell the language. He decides she’ll wake in a few days. Meanwhile, he gets to other cases where his mind-reading ability comes in handy. When the woman does wake, Eric gets his first chance to see if her words and thoughts line up–and also the first chance to get distracted by her beauty.
I tried not to look at the delicious curve of her neck and shoulders. “What a lovely name you have. Could you say it for me again so that I may pronounce it correctly?”
She looked to Craig, then squinted and looked at me from the corner of her eye. Suspicious but smiling. “My name, Viviana Petrescu. Is not so difficult, yes?” Thinking: <Viviana Petki> followed by gibberish.
But before Eric can learn much more about her, she leaves the hospital and disappears, leaving Eric to use his down-to-earth PI skills to find her and learn where–when–she came from and why.
What Y titles are in your Bookbag?