Friday, July 1, 2022

Summer Reading 2022 Drunk on All Your Strange New Words

I heard about this book in a webinar on mysteries and thrillers and the description really caught my attention. It is a locked room mystery. There are aliens (the Logi) in a near-future setting.  Earth is a planet dealing with sea barriers around many coastal cities due to rising tides from global warming, a lack of jobs in many areas, and a desire to make the alliance with the Logi work out. But there are also those who protest the alien presence on Earth, even if there are a relatively small number of cultural attaches and their presence creates jobs.

Lydia is one of those fortunate enough to land a job as a translator. The Logi don't have an oral language and their translators must turn the Logi's thoughts into English, or vice versa. The process makes the human translator feel drunk - which adds some of the complications to the mystery. When Lydia's assigned Logi, Fitzwilliam, is murdered, she is asleep in her room trying to recover from a marathon evening of translating a Broadway play and then a reception afterward. The security system at the residence shows that no one came in or out - but she knows she didn't do it.

She tries to deal with the police, the personnel from the Logi embassy, the social media explosion either praising her for getting rid of one of the aliens or condemning her for betraying her client, and the fact that she is now out of the only job she was qualified for. In the midst of all this, Lydia receives communications offering to help her solve the case and clear her name. Can she trust this contact? And can she manage to find the truth when the entire police department of New York can't? 

The increasing dependence on social media is one of the pieces that creates the setting. It is easy to imagine the world continuing to depend on posts by random influencers and commenters and for the average citizen to dial down the "Truthiness Rating" to let more stories through the filters, even though it makes it all highly unreliable.  And the idea that someone in the background is trying to manipulate events by skewing those results is also very believable. 

If you enjoy Sci-Fi with aliens who are interested in Earth culture, mysteries that seem impossible to unravel, and dealing with a possibly unreliable narrator (feels drunk from the translation process, remember), then you should pick up this title. Publication date was June 28.

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