cover image IMPROBABLE


Adam Fawer, . . HarperCollins, $24.95 (416pp) ISBN 978-0-06-073677-4

As Sherlock Holmes once said, "When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." Or as fourth-year Columbia statistics Ph.D. student David Caine tells his class in this science-driven, action-packed thriller, "[W]hen the chances of being wrong are minuscule, you have probably discovered the truth." Caine, a compulsive gambler, has just seen his sure-thing poker hand go bad, leaving him deep in debt to a Russian gangster. He can't skip town because he's started an experimental treatment for his temporal lobe epilepsy—a treatment that allows him to tap into the collective unconscious, a parallel universe known as the everywhen , where innumerable futures exist for him to choose from. Needless to say, this makes Caine a valuable commodity, and he's soon on the run from a number of government agencies, none having his best interests at heart. His schizophrenic twin brother, Jasper, aids him in his flight, as does tough female rogue CIA agent Nava Vaner. It's difficult to keep the competing bad guys straight, and discussions of Heisenberg's uncertainty principle, Einstein's theory of relativity, Schrödinger's cat, Laplace's demon and probability theory tend to slow things down. But the success of The Rule of Four and The Da Vinci Code have shown that plenty of readers enjoy their science, as long as there's a compelling plot encircling it, which there is here. Agent, Ann Rittenberg. (On sale Jan. 18)