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A few years ago, I went to a book reading and signing for Brad Meltzer. Unexpectedly, I found that part of his book tour was the “Brad and Brad” show as he was sharing the stage with Brad Parks. I had read one of Parks' novels but did not know much more about him. He was so engaging and funny that I wanted to read everything from him. I then learned that he has received the prestigious Shamus, Nero and Lefty awards, the only author to have achieved this trifecta.

Parks' latest book, INTERFERENCE, is quite unlike any of those crime novels that won him those awards. It reads more like a Michael Crichton medical thriller, and I was intrigued from the very first page. The preface introduces the theory of quantum entanglement, which Albert Einstein himself called absurd. For those readers whose knowledge of quantum physics goes no further than the last Ant-Man film, you are in for a treat and should learn something in the process.

"INTERFERENCE is that ideal novel for a reader whose TBR list crosses genres as you are able to get a small handful of styles in one big quantum spoonful."

Quantum physicist Matt Bronik may have made a breakthrough in his laboratory, one that mankind could benefit from and rich corporations would pay billions to own. But lately he has been suffering from violent total body seizures that typically find him waking up in the hospital. This is concerning to him and more than alarming to his wife, Brigid, who didn’t think that he was working on anything that was remotely dangerous.

In between seizures, Matt is approached by Sean Plottner, a billionaire Wall Street investor, who wants his discovery and is willing to hire him at a starting salary of one million dollars per year. Matt and Brigid never thought that they would ever see money like that, and it makes for a difficult decision. In the end, Matt declines Plottner's offer and decides to remain at the academic level. He explains to Brigid that the discovery he has made involves the interference theory --- or, more precisely, the ability to plunge physical items into the quantum state.

When Matt is abducted from his lab at Dartmouth College, people start to realize how serious his discovery must be. It immediately becomes the most important thing in Emmett Webster's life. Emmett was on the verge of retiring from the local police department and traveling the country in an RV when fate took a cruel twist with his life. His wife died suddenly, and now he has no desire to retire. He gets the Matt Bronik case and has no idea how big it will become. Even Plottner puts out a one-million-dollar reward for anyone who knows Matt’s whereabouts.

A video that turns up makes it look like a group of Chinese nationals abducted Matt. There are so many places to turn to at this point --- a rival country, someone Matt may have wronged in his career, or even Plottner getting revenge for having his job offer turned down. A frantic Brigid and a steady Emmett are ready to see this case to the end, but it is going to get more twisty and confusing before any of it starts to make sense. The best chance they may have is the oddest thing that Emmett has ever seen in his lengthy career. It appears that one of Matt's colleagues in the lab, a young woman named Sheena, may have developed a special type of ESP that allows her to locate Matt wherever he is --- sort of like a human GPS.

What remains unknown is how this quantum virus that both Matt and Sheena seem to be afflicted with will continue to make them behave. The ensuing action turns into a great mix of scientific thriller and unique crime fiction, and Brad Parks happily throws in plenty of plot twists and red herrings to keep even the most astute mystery reader on guard. INTERFERENCE is that ideal novel for a reader whose TBR list crosses genres as you are able to get a small handful of styles in one big quantum spoonful.

Reviewed by Ray Palen on September 25, 2020

by Brad Parks

  • Publication Date: September 1, 2020
  • Genres: Fiction, Suspense, Thriller
  • Hardcover: 388 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
  • ISBN-10: 1542023394
  • ISBN-13: 9781542023399