cover image Something New Under the Sun

Something New Under the Sun

Alexandra Kleeman. Hogarth, $28 (368p) ISBN 978-1-984826-30-5

Kleeman’s ranging and ambitious latest (after Intimations) imagines a climate-ravaged near-future California. Novelist Patrick Hamlin has just arrived in Los Angeles to assist with the adaptation of his melancholy novel Elsinore Lane, based on his father’s death. Hollywood calculations, though, quickly distort the story beyond recognition. Worse, the producers have cast in the leading role unpredictable former child star Cassidy Carter, whose career is on the downturn. Even worse yet, Patrick is made a production assistant and tasked with chauffeuring the unpredictable Cassidy to and from set. Meanwhile, Patrick’s wife, Alison, who previously suffered a breakdown, takes her daughter to an Upstate New York eco-retreat; California has recently converted to using WAT-R, a synthetic water product; and green vans make rounds to pick up sufferers of a mysterious new dementia. Cassidy and Patrick are then drawn in by conspiracy theories involving a supposed link between WAT-R and Cassidy’s old show, Kassi Keene: Kid Detective, and Patrick streams episodes looking for clues. While a few plot twists are telegraphed, the action is propulsive and entertaining even as the horrors of climate change smolder around every corner. Readers will be captivated by this intelligent, rip-roaring story. Agent: Claudia Ballard, William Morris Endeavor. (Aug.)