Be sure to check for my review, first posted on Mystery and Suspense, as well as a number of other insightful comments by other reviewers.
Brad Parks is never one to lead the reader down a straightforward path in his thrillers, and Interference does not buck this trend. A seemingly mysterious medical ailment turns into something a lot more impactful as the story progresses, straddling the line between thriller and quasi-sci fi at times. With a race to discover the truth and a time limit imposed by a hostage taker, this is one book that does not have time to rest on its laurels. Perfect for the reader who needs a little science in their thriller reader experience.
Brigid Bronik has been enjoying her life, even with some of the hurdles its tossed in her direction. When she receives word that her husband, Matt, has collapsed at work, she is frantic. His apparent seizure is nothing that Brigid can understand, but she’s not alone. Doctors have no clue as to what might have befallen Dr. Matt Bronik. He’s a quantum physicist, so it’s not as though he’s come across anything that could knowingly have caused this inexplicable medical issue.
When it happens again a few days later, Brigid is beside herself. It’s only then that Matt admits that he has been working on something top secret for the Department of Defence. It would seem that America is dabbling in quantum viruses, particularly of the tobacco mosaic variety. This means little to everyone who is listening, but Matt assures them that there’s something going on.
After Matt goes missing when he’s seen being carted off by some EMTs, Brigid is as panicked as ever. Bringing in the assistance of New Hampshire State Police Detective Emmet Webster, Brigit tries to pass along what she knows. Detective Webster is not entirely clear on what’s going on, but soon realises that there’s more to the story than even he can handle. Matt’s post-doctoral student goes missing and the ‘kidnappers’ are soon proven to have been sleek in their plan to remove Matt from the premises.
It would seem the tobacco mosaic virus has a form of entanglement theory woven into it, a term from quantum physics that refers to the interconnectivity of two particles, no matter how far apart they are, reacting and sensing one another. As Brigit and her group inch closer, it seems as though Matt knows they are coming and pushes away a little more.
When a ransom demand is made to a local billionaire who had been courting Matt Bronik for some other work, a set of events is set in motion that could blast things wide open. It would seem Matt Bronik is at the centre of a suspicious game of cat and mouse, where numerous people would benefit from his disappearance. While Brigit is not entirely sure who she can trust or where to turn, she can only hope to ‘interfere’ with the master plan enough to bring Matt home safely.
I have read a few pieces by Brad Parks before and they never fail to pull me in. While the subject matter is sometimes far outside my comfort zone, I always learn a great deal and find that the thrilling plot and quick pace keep me needing to know more in short order.
Brigit Bronik is well placed at the centre of the story, though I would argue that she shares the spotlight with Emmet Webster throughout. Both have had significant things happen in their lives (Webster most recently) that shape their outlook and how they approach the current Matt Bronik disappearance. The story permits them both to grow and develop, though their outlook when it comes to the case at hand could not be more different. Working together and in tandem, Brigit and Detective Webster uncover truths throughout this story and will surely keep the reader intrigued.
Parks has so many moving parts in this piece that there is a need for a strong set of secondary characters to keep the subplots alive. Parks develops them well and keeps the reader intrigued with how they complement one another or serve a small, independent purpose. From Chinese nationals to a seemingly innocuous physics professor who enjoys chasing skirts whenever he feels the need, each character that appears plays an integral role in understanding the larger picture here. Parks supports them to the point that the reader cannot help but be a little curious, which makes for a wonderful story.
While some of the plot lines seem to be tied to scientific phenomena, Brad Parks does not write in such a way so as to lose the reader along the journey. The narrative gathers momentum, but explains things as they progress, turning highly technical terms into digestible educational moments. The reader is kept attuned to all the developing storylines and can follow along with ease. Character interactions are key to this story, which is told from both the Brigit and Emmett Webster perspectives. The split narrative is a key aspect of the book, opening the reader’s eyes to more than they might ave expected. With short chapters that keep the cliffhangers coming, there is little time to digest things before the next plot twist comes along. This is the kind of story that will have readers up late into the night, begging for ‘a little more’. I cannot wait to see if this is the start to something bigger, a short series perhaps. I’d surely be game!
Kudos, Mr. Parks, for another winner. You have such a way with words that I hope to go back and check out some more of your work, when time permits.
A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons