(Disclosure: I received an electronic copy from the publisher for review purposes via Netgalley.)
In the year 2023 Saskia Brandt, detective with the European FIB, comes back from holiday newly single, tired and full of sadness. Heading straight back to the office she finds no peace, only her receptionist dead and no suspects. Given only 12 hours to clear her name she sets to work on unravelling the mystery, one that proves greater than the sum of its parts.
David Proctor is just an academic eating his breakfast until he gets a phone-call telling him the prototype computer – Ego – he has been loaned is now the only one left. Meanwhile someone has broken into his house, someone who wants him to go back to the lab where his wife died in a bomb attack 20 years before.
As the mysteries and intrigue envelop Saskia and David they are forced to unpick their own pasts. Because in Déjà Vu you find that things aren’t as they seem, truth is a matter of perspective and that the past can change just as quickly as the future.
* * * * *
The science fiction tropes come thick, fast and early on in this techno-thriller, (artificial intelligence, mind wiping and implanted memories, time travel, virtual reality, nanotech and underwater cars, to name a few), so much so that at first I was concerned that many of them might have been thrown in gratuitously. But I needn’t have worried – Hocking soon gathers all the threads together and weaves them into an intricate, meticulously plotted tale. FIB detective Saskia Brandt is a compelling character as she struggles to discover and define her true self, all the while staying one step ahead of those who have the will and the means to end her.
I’d hazard a guess that P.K. Dick is one of the author’s influences; Déjà Vu is in some ways reminiscent of Dick’s work with its themes of memory (both real and invented) and identity. This novel doesn’t break new ground in SF, but is no less intelligent or well-crafted for it.