cover image Big Time

Big Time

Ben H. Winters. Mulholland, $29 (320p) ISBN 978-0-316-30577-8

Winters (Stranger) plays with readers’ expectations like a virtuoso in this stellar technological thriller, which opens on a nightmare situation and never takes its foot off the gas. New mom Allie Zerkofsky, a self-described “regular boring middle-school teacher,” and her infant, Rachel, are abducted from a New Jersey playground by two assailants, who separate them. When Allie asks her abductor what will happen to Rachel, however, her abductor says she has no idea what baby Allie is referring to. Allie’s responding howls of grief distract the kidnapper, leading to a car crash and enabling Allie to escape. Winters then introduces Grace Berney, an attorney for the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, whose boss asks her to trace an unusual medical device implanted in an unidentified amnesiac female patient—whose injuries readers will recognize as matching Allie’s. Grace’s digging leads to the defunct Substance Material Group, a business that had been exploring a new theory about time. Winters’s many jaw-dropping plot twists are always grounded in pitch-perfect depictions of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary events. Blake Crouch fans will be in heaven. (Mar.)