In upper New York State Ancaster University is getting ready for spring graduation. The elite private university is science focused. Its graduates will become leading scientists in America.
In Washington the NSA (National Security Agency) is keeping a close eye on Roberts as they plot how they can use him in the battle against terrorism. Special Agent Yslan Hicks is continuing her program monitoring synaesthetes.
Crazy Eddie, Roberts computer genius friend, and Roberts share a great loss. Each is separated from their only child. Roberts remains estranged from his son, Seth. Crazy Eddie is constantly scheming on how to gain custody of his daughter.
At Ancaster Assistant Professor Neil Frost is a dangerous man. He is aggravated by a university system that pays him modestly and ever more frustrated at being denied a full professorship. In his fury he contemplates a terrible act of violence.
There is another angry man on campus. Janitor Walter Jones considers himself the equal or better of anyone at the university. He deeply resents the sense of superiority in the students and faculty and is ready to listen to a wicked idea of Frost.
Bombs explode at the graduation ceremony killing over 200 of the faculty and graduating students. It is a chilling, frighteningly real event. Two emotionally unstable men have committed mass murder.
All the security forces of the United States, led by the NSA, descend upon Ancaster. The Agency reaches out all the way to Africa to get Roberts. They want his special talent evaluating the truth of hundreds of video statements.
Immediately they learn the limitations of Roberts’ gift. He can determine if someone is not telling the truth. He cannot determine if a person is lying. He cannot tell if an untruth is deliberate. With almost everyone not telling the truth about something it is hard to determine who may have been involved.
Roberts does consider why people make statements. Roberts draws on his primary job of teaching actors. He emphasizes to actors that to be a good actor it is not enough to learn the lines well. A skilled actor works to understand what led the character to say those words.
Joining Roberts is another synasthete. Her gift complements Roberts. When they work together there are elements of the supernatural. As with the first book the supernatural fits rather than detracts from the book.
The strength of the book is in the fascinating characters of the synaesthetes. Their special talents make them among the most unusal of investigators.
As with the first book, I found the plot disjointed at times. Still it flows well. I was drawn through the book.
It would be a hard book to read without having read The Placebo Effect, the first book. A Murder of Crows is a true second book in a triology. It proceeds directly into the new plot with not a lot of back story.
I did miss that little of the story is in Canada. Where the first book moved between Canada and the United States this book is an American story. I hope the third book returns to Canada.
The title is brilliantly related to the plot. I will now associate crows with university graduations.
I am looking forward to the final book. Rotenberg has created a unique form of sleuth in Roberts. I say “form” for, while he is not seeking to solve the crime, it could not be resolved without him.
****I received an advance reader copy of the book from Simon & Schuster. More information on the book can be found at http://books.simonandschuster.
David Rotenberg’s website is http://www.davidrotenberg.com/.
A trailer on the book can be found at http://www.youtube.com/watch?
This review is part of the blogger tour for the book organized by Simon & Schuster. It will be published on March 19.
****My past posts on The Placebo Effect and Q & A with the author, including information on synasethetes, are The Placebo Effect; Questions and Answers with David Rotenberg and Thought on Questions and Answers with David
****A Murder of Crows is my 7th book read in the 6th Canadian Book Challenge at the Book Mine Set blog.