cover image Scorpion


Christian Cantrell. Random House, $27 (336p) ISBN 978-1-984801-97-5

This stunning near-future thriller from Cantrell (Equinox) takes some truly breathtaking turns. CIA data analyst Quinn Mitchell is sent in pursuit of the Elite Assassin, an apparently unpredictable and unstoppable killer. Readers, meanwhile, are introduced to the inscrutable murderer Ranveer, whose killings efficiently carry out someone else’s master plan. Quinn’s clever investigation, using neatly extrapolated high-tech gadgets, is fascinating in itself, and, as the CIA receives missives from the future through the time-bending Epoch Index, Quinn’s search collides with some darkly fascinating thought experiments. Among them: would a person be justified in killing a nine-month-old baby if told he would grow up to be a terrorist? Quinn is not the only one to grapple with such issues; so must her colleague, quantum physicist Henrietta Yi, whose parents died in a terrorist attack, but who is increasingly worried about how her bosses could use the Epoch Index to create an authoritarian future. Cantrell’s drolly caustic prose encourages readers to care about the characters, even as the many surprises make it dangerous to get close to any one of them. The result is as entertaining as it is intellectually and ethically challenging. Agent: Joe Veltre, the Gersh Agency. (May)