cover image Fifty Mice

Fifty Mice

Daniel Pyne. Penguin/Blue Rider, $26.95 (304p) ISBN 978-0-399-17164-2

At the start of this wonderfully paranoid jaunt through competing realities from Pyne (Twentynine Palms), Jay Johnson, an ordinary guy, is abducted at a Los Angeles subway station. A deputy U.S. marshal known as Public later informs him that he’s in the Federal Witness Protection Program because of a murder investigation. While Jay claims ignorance, it becomes apparent that his memories are easily forgotten, manipulated, or invented. He’s given a fake family as cover, and, as his life begins to resemble a performance art piece, layers of artificially reconstructed events begin to reveal their true nature. Even Santa Catalina Island, where Jay winds up, is like a film set, a Potemkin village populated by federal agents and witness protection program inductees. As Jay struggles to discover the truth, Pyne’s confident hand guides readers to a surprising, popcorn-dropping final twist. Agent: Victoria Sanders: Victoria Sanders & Associates. (Jan.)