by Curtis Hox
RATING: Five Stars
Part mystery, part thriller and part techno Sci-Fi, BLEEDOVER, the freshman offering from relative indie new-comer, Curtis Hox is a fabulous ride through the back halls of research academia and the monumental egos and fierce competition that can reside there. Packed full of character development, Hox moves the complex plot quickly and seemingly effortlessly, propelling it with the various, sometimes conflicting, motivations that possess his multi-faceted ensemble cast.
The main character, Dr Hattie Sterling, is a researcher on a mission. Her life's work: To uncover the cause of a relatively new phenomena, Bleedover. Here, various pieces of social ephemera--artwork, billboard advertisements, movies and even centuries-old books left languishing in dusty library archives--are suddenly and inexplicably altered. The K in the Manhattan DKNY mural mysteriously becomes reversed, despite millions of casual daily onlookers seeing no sign of vandals or pranksters. The Mona Lisa, under constant surveillance in the Louvre, suddenly frowns instead of smiles. It is a mystery, one Hattie is determined to solve.
In direct competition with her is multi-millionaire Corbin Lyell, old-friend turned bitter rival. With a cutthroat approach in complete opposition to Hattie's, Corbin will stop at nothing to beat her to the solution and hopefully humiliate her in the process.
When Hattie is able, with the help of her research assistant (Masumi) and a strangely talented young man (Towns), to replicate Bleedover in her lab, the race is on and the stakes go through the roof.
The near-future world Hox creates is convincing and realistic. The characters have real-life human flaws and their motivations are both understandable and complex. Each is credible in his/her role. Hox never gets caught up in the techno-jargon at the expense of the story or character development. Instead, the emerging technology remains appropriately in the background, with the plot driven predominantly by the characters and their individual (often opposing) agendas. BLEEDOVER would make a great full-length motion picture!
Without giving away any spoilers, my only (very minor) complaint is that understanding the actions of one key character would be helped by at least a passing familiarity with the work of H.P. Lovecraft. That said, the story can easily be followed by readers who have no such knowledge.
If you are looking for a highly original and intelligent weekend escape to a near future Universe with lots of suspense, thrills, twists and turns, then BLEEDOVER is definitely the the book for you!