Reviewed by: Pete Barber
Approximate word count: 85,000-90,000 words
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Rusty Coats started his career as a reporter for his hometown newspaper, progressed to investigative reporter and columnist, and now works as an interactive media executive. This is his first novel.
Jonah Morgan inherited the ability to “wick” memories and foretell futures. He receives the information as flashes when he touches everyday objects, such as a pen, or a ticket. Although Jonah “sees” the past and future of the people who have left their residual mark on these objects, he has no ability to change what he sees, so his gift is a mixed blessing. He is haunted by a vision of his wife and children dying in a car crash that he was unable to prevent, and since that event has worn gloves to inhibit his powers.
When his glove is accidentally pulled off just after boarding an airplane, Jonah foresees the plane crashing. He tries to stop the flight, but is escorted off as a nuisance and the disaster occurs. The novel revolves around the effects this disaster had on those lost, in particular a high-school basketball team who were traveling to a playoff game.
The premise—a man having this “wicking” ability—is compelling. The crash event itself is well told, exciting, and action-filled. Much of the book focuses on the small town that lost the kids in the basketball team. Here the storyline gets muddied due to the large number of minor characters (over thirty in all). This leads to a lot of “head hopping” and fast switches in point of view which makes for confusing reading at times--not quite knowing who’s who, or who’s talking.
The action builds throughout and the climatic final twenty percent makes compelling reading that moved me close to tears at times.
I couldn’t shake the feeling that if only the piece had been edited more closely it would have been a far better read. Many scenes started in italics, which the author used to indicate Jonah’s imaginings and also to indicate external information sources (such as TV or radio broadcasts); or they started in dialogue, which meant reading a paragraph or more before I knew where I was in the scene. There were a few occurrences of characters doing things that are physically impossible such as “catching” or “holding” someone’s eye or turning “the wheel into the school parking lot”. Nothing heinous, but enough to take the shine off a solid story premise. Better choices would have been gazing into someone’s eye or turning the vehicle into the parking lot.
No significant typos, however there were some issues with copy and content editing as well as formatting discussed in detail in the appraisal section.
Rating: *** Three stars