DI Clive Lussac has forgotten how to do his job. Ten years of embedded technology – ‘iMe’ – has led to complete control and the eradication of crime. Then the impossible happens. A body is found, and the killer is untraceable. With new partner Zoe Jordan, Clive must re-sharpen his detective skills and find the killer without technology, before time runs out for the next victim…
Title: Proximity | Author: Jem Tugwell | Publisher: Serpentine Books | Pub. Date: 6 June 2019 | Pages: 352 | ISBN: 9781916022300 | Genre: Science Fiction | Language: English | Triggers: Rape, sexual assault | Rating: 3 out of 5 | Source: The publisher provided a review copy
‘Proximity’ is that kind of high concept book that takes an interesting idea and then turns it into a murder mystery. I reviewed a great example of this sub-genre (speculative whodunnit?) earlier in the year, ‘Golden State’ by Ben H Winters. ‘Proximity’ isn’t as good as that book, but it’s still a fun thriller with some decent notions.
It’s set in a near future Britain, where society’s reliance on personal technology and willingness to let the state control individual freedoms in the name of the greater good has reached epidemic (or perhaps, logical) proportions. Everyone has a device implanted in them called an ‘iMe’. The implant tracks its user’s location at all times, and also monitors health and food intake, preventing them from eating or drinking that will harm them. The upshot of the location tracking element is that the police have come to rely on it when investigating crimes. So when a young woman is kidnapped and her iMe signal vanishes they need to bring in one of the old guard.
The concept feels a little far-fetched at times (and the iMe name, which features A LOT, grated on me quite quickly), but Jem Tugwell weaves a pretty compelling story around it. It’s not brilliant, but it is very readable, with enjoyable characters and a fast-moving plot. The pairing of a grizzled old copper who remembers the old ways of working and bemoans the lack of bacon in his diet, with a bright young thing who wants to impress, is maybe a bit obvious, but it works.
What I liked a bit less was the use of multiple narrators, which seems to me to be a massively overused technique in crime fiction at the moment. I’m of the view that occasionally it works brilliantly, but most off the time it adds nothing to the story. I’m afraid the latter is true here. The story is told in the first person by each of the two cops and by the criminal and I didn’t feel that the chapters from the villain added much. I’d have preferred a tighter edit in a more traditional third person style.
That’s a matter of personal preference though, and it didn’t massively spoil my enjoyment of the book. It’s a fun read with some good ideas, a bit of humour and a lot of twists. The final third is really gripping, and the story gets wrapped up nicely at the end. Not ground-breaking by any means, but a solidly entertaining thriller.
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Really great review, Olly! This one seems interesting enough!
Yeah it was intriguing
Probably not my cuppa tea. I did enjoy your review:)
Thank you for reading 😊
The concept sounds interesting, although I’m with you on the comment about writing style for thrillers these days. Thanks for the review.
No problem, thanks for reading as always 😊
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