Mini-Review: “If at First…,” Peter F. Hamilton (2011)

October 26th, 2014 1:07 pm by Kelly Garbato

A Crime Story with a Twist

four out of five stars

When tech genius Marcus Orthew’s Richmond research center is broken into by longtime stalker Toby Jensen, the case lands on the desk of Metropolitan Police Chief Detective David Lanson. Long since disillusioned by his job – which seems to be little more than filling out paperwork and verifying insurance claims – the Jensen case promises to be a career-changer. Literally.

In the interrogation room, Jensen makes some rather outlandish claims. Chief among them: that his boyhood friend Orthew is building a time machine. Instead of sending himself back in time, soon-to-be 50-year-old Orthew transmitted information – his consciousness – allowing his past self access to technologies and information that don’t yet exist. While the man is indeed a genius, his exorbitant wealth and success wouldn’t have been possible without the unfair advantages afforded him through time travel. And with continual use of the machine, he’s just a few buttons away from becoming a god among men.

While lieutenants Paul Mathews and Carmen Galloway dismiss Jensen as crazy, Lanson is unsettled by the circumstantial – yet creepy – evidence he brings to the table. Against his better judgment, Lanson gets a warrant for Orthew’s second lab…and that’s when his world goes sideways.

“If at First” is an enjoyable story with a couple of unexpected twists. What starts out as a tale from the hardboiled detective book quickly morphs into a science fiction/time travel story, and Hamilton continues to throw wrenches into Lanson’s narrative right up until the end. “If at First” would make a hella fun movie.

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Diversity: None that I recall.

 

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