Ensuing her late husband’s passing under unusual circumstances, Marti Kahn is coping with the grief of letting go and moving on, even while friends and colleagues of her husband become suspicious that her husband’s passing probably wasn’t natural. Then, one night, not long after the funeral, she is visited by a former student of her husband, who was an astrophysics professor. The student proposes an indecent blackmail scenario: either she can have sex with him on the spot, or he can file a lawsuit against her and spread vituperative and untrue rumors about her around her late husband’s college. Later, after Marti is able to postpone the coercive tryst, a colleague of her husband ruminates that the student’s motives were not explicit: what he was really doing was using the occasion to snoop on some secret files in her husband’s cabinet that deal with his arcane research into UFOs and free energy.
In an attempt to evade further trouble, Marti decides to move out of her residence, change her name, and move to Tuscon, where she meets a cowboy-ish guy by the name of Larry, who plays the saxophone and seems like the perfect guy to infuse optimism into her somewhat depressing predicament. The move to the desert, while revitalizing, however, proves not so peaceful a getaway as she had hoped, as a series of break-ins into her apartment convince her that someone, maybe the government, is after her husband’s exotic research into unidentified aerial phenomena. Pretty soon after this, she unlocks one of the cabinets and discovers an unearthly metallic sphere, which she believes is relaying to her telepathic communications from an advanced and benign ET race. Marti ultimately feels compelled by the sphere to return the object to its ET inventors but with a degree of confusion about how to do so.
Overall, the book is well-written and inventive, with an equilibrium created between Marti’s disconsolate personal life and her Harvard-ish discussions about theoretical physics, New Age beliefs, and the controversial claims that ETs are already here and visiting us. Simone weaves a fairly simple but elegant tapestry of events, which all loosely fit together in the end but are all threaded in such a random way that they don’t seem be too different from a non-fictional account. The use of the present tense throughout is an interesting choice and lends the narrative an avant-garde flavor, a stylistic maneuver that helps separate the book from more standard fare for novels of this sort.
Since the book dwells mostly on personal and family issues throughout, the pace of the novel is slower, and seldom does it rely on adrenaline to keep readers pulled in. Instead of this, Simone infuses the story with interspersions of philosophy and ET science to help keep the narrative tug in place. Unusual paranormal events are presented with a degree of magical realism such that there is little surprise when characters see a UFO or strange light hovering in the sky, a technique which gives the story an air of intrigue and subtle mystery.
~MP Gunderson for IndieReader