The 22 Murders of Madison May (Max Barry, Hachette)
The idea of parallel universes might once have been exotic, but between public interest in physics, the increasing popularity of science fiction books and movies, and the rise of the Mandela Effect (a term denoting collectively held false memories), I think I can dispense with explaining it. In Max Barry’s latest novel Madison May is a student—but in some parallel worlds she is an actor or sells real estate. In 22 of them she has been brutally murdered. The Madisons are all different but the killer is the same, hunting her across different realities. Felicity Staples is a journalist covering her first murder and gets caught up in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse between the violent obsessive and those hunting him. Unwittingly, she too becomes able to move between subtly different worlds, driven by an obsession of her own: to save the next Madison. Weird setting(s) aside, this is a classic catch-the-stalker thriller, and while the parallel worlds aspect of the story is clever and important to the characters and narrative, it avoids Inception-style confusion and stays comprehensible. The 22 Murders of Madison May is a dynamic and intense book, not just for speculative fiction readers but also for anyone who likes a good thriller. This is one for fans of Claire North, Blake Crouch and of course Barry’s other books.
Stefen Brazulaitis is the owner of Stefen’s Books in Perth.