GNOMON by Nick Harkaway

“In the near future world of London, England, citizens are constantly observed and democracy has reached a pinnacle of ‘transparency.’ Every action is seen, every word is recorded, and the System has access to its citizens’ thoughts and memories–all in the name of providing the safest society in history.

When suspected dissident Diana Hunter dies in government custody, it marks the first time a citizen has been killed during an interrogation. The System doesn’t make mistakes, but something isn’t right about the circumstances surrounding Hunter’s death. Mielikki Neith, a trusted state inspector and a true believer in the System, is assigned to find out what went wrong. Immersing herself in neural recordings of the interrogation, what she finds isn’t Hunter but rather a panorama of characters within Hunter’s psyche: a lovelorn financier in Athens who has a mystical experience with a shark; a brilliant alchemist in ancient Carthage confronting the unexpected outcome of her invention; an expat Ethiopian painter in London designing a controversial new video game, and a sociopathic disembodied intelligence from the distant future call Gnomon.

Embedded in the memories of these impossible lives lies a code which Neith must decipher to find out what Hunter is hiding. In the static between these stories, Neith begins to catch glimpses of the real Diana Hunter–and, alarmingly, of herself. The staggering consequences of what she finds will reverberate throughout the world.”

VERY interesting concept, and a pretty interesting execution …. for a while.  This book is  over 700 pages, about 300 pages too long.  Each of those fictional characters parading around inside the dissident woman’s head has its own (very long) story, which clouds what would otherwise be a nifty murder-in-plain-sight mystery.

I found it compelling and page turning for about 65% of the book, and then it just became tedious.  Once we Gentle Readers understand that all these separate stories and characters were deliberately made up by the dead woman to obfuscate her real intentions should she be subjected to interrogation,  the fascination with them plummets to nuttin’.   It’s like somebody telling you their dreams.  Who cares?  It’s dreams, it is not a real happening.  Side diversion while I bitch complain testily about fiction which recounts some character’s dream, yeah, like it means anything.  I don’t let people tell me their dreams in real life, why would I want to waste time reading about the fictional dream of a fictional character in a novel? So I spent the rest of the book skipping over the tedious and seemingly endless tales of these fictional characters in the head of a fictional character in a piece of fiction I was reading, till I got to the end, the mystery was solved, and ended with some very weird and unnecessary woo woo paranormal crap happenings.

Disappointed.  And I LOVED Harkaway’s other book, The Gone-Away World, which you will find here.  But as always, I am bedazzled by such a mind that can create a world such as exists in Gnomon.

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