PrintE-mail Written by Ed Fortune

Blake Crouch is best known as the author of the Wayward Pines Trilogy, the book series that launched the TV show of the same name. Wayward Pines has been compared favourably to Twin Peaks, and as such Crouch has a reputation for creating creepy and absorbing worlds that mix our expectations of the everyday with the creepy and strange. Crouch’s new novel, Dark Matter, is a departure from his previously established world whilst cementing his reputation as a master of the strange.

Dark Matter
opens with a day in the life of Jason Dessen. Just a normal chap whose life is pretty unremarkable. Dessen has taken the well-trodden path throughout most of his days. He has a remarkable mind and happens to be a brilliant physicist, but his life choices have given him a loving wife, a healthy son and a stable job as an ordinary college physics professor. Until, of course, he’s abducted, knock unconscious, strapped to a gurney and then awoken to find himself in a life he did not plan. One in which he has no family, but success as a scientist. He has everything he thought he wanted; except the things he wants the most. His wife and family, in this brave new world, have never happened.

As openings go, it’s a strong one and it sets the mood brilliantly. What we have here is a science based thriller that deals with that most human of concepts; regret. Everyone who has ever lived has wondered what their live would be like if they had made different choices, and Dark Matter thrusts the consequences of this front and centre.  This is a journey into the self more than it is anything else, but peppered with a tightly written and well-paced adventure thriller. The core ideas aren’t anything new and the twists and turns may not surprise those who read a lot of strange thrillers, but the journey is a lot of fun.

Crouch’s writing is tight and engaging; it’s his most accomplished work to date and is a genuine page turner. The story format and the prose is both compelling and engaging. It’s one of those books that you find yourself planning when you’ll have the time to read it next and makes for near perfect holiday reading; store this one away for a rainy day or a long journey. Recommended.


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