cover image The Gone World

The Gone World

Tom Sweterlitsch. Putnam, $27 (400p) ISBN 978-0-399-16750-8

This chronological pretzel of a science fiction thriller embeds a murder investigation into an alien mystery that could end humankind. In 1997, NCIS Special Agent Shannon Moss is on the trail of a missing Navy SEAL who may have murdered his family. She ends up tracking him through her own past and into the near future, thanks to a secret military project that travels through time and space. Unfortunately, the futures to which she travels aren’t guaranteed to come about, so they’re inadmissible as evidence. Worse, she finds increasing signs that all possible futures are doomed by an alien intrusion called the White Hole. Bouncing back and forth in time, Shannon pieces together how the crew of a missing spaceship are linked to a terrorist conspiracy, and looks for ways to disrupt the chain of events that leads to the White Hole. Sweterlitsch (Tomorrow and Tomorrow) invests the reader in Shannon’s struggles to save the world and rescue those trapped in the “thin space” where time loops endlessly. Unfortunately, the well-plotted resolution that unravels the knotty time puzzle also undoes everything that makes Shannon worth following through this complex story. Agent: David Gernert, Gernert Co. (Feb.)