I became a fan of Peter Clines while reading “14,” his riveting apocalyptic novel of a mysterious apartment building in Los Angeles—and mutant cockroaches. The Fold is a riveting apocalyptic novel about a high school teacher with eidetic memory, a little known government project about, well, a door—and mutant cockroaches.
The mutant cockroach thing notwithstanding, this novel is, in a word, phenomenal. Oh, and the cockroaches are relevant.
Peter Clines does Lovecraftian fiction as good as any writer on the planet today. And he’s a story teller of the highest order. Leland Erickson, aka Mike—which is short for Mikroft, Sherlock Holmes somewhat more irreverent older brother—is the very likable teacher with the eidetic memory who headlines the story. Although he just might be among the smartest people on the planet, he doesn’t care and has no desire to use his special powers to advance mankind. Following him as he reluctantly comes around to the realization that he is the only one who can solve the mystery put before him and his colleagues was fascinating, all the more so because the writing is so compelling.
The story is not necessarily original, although the spin taken by Mr. Clines and the authoritative way he writes it make the journey between the first and last words a suspenseful, steamy, and ultimately satisfying one. There’s just enough sex to make you smile, enough mystery to soothe sci fi readers, marvelously and ghoulishly rendered monsters for the horror crowd, and lots of homespun humor. It’s told in a linear format with few flashbacks. Therefore it keeps moving forward, gaining more and more momentum until it literally explodes off the page.
I was very impressed with the monsters. It’s rare a writer can make a monster both menacing and weighty without the reader feeling let down when the monster finally makes an appearance on the page. Readers here need not worry. These monsters will fascinate, their ghoul factor is high, and in Mr. Clines’ talented hands, they seem to simultaneously stand somewhere between ten and a hundred feet tall in the reader’s mind. They are breathtakingly menacing, but realistically rendered, which makes them human in scale and scary as all get out. I haven’t seen a monster like this since the first “Alien” movie.
The Fold is the best techno sci fi novel this year. Five stars. Read it. ‘Nuff said.