Today I’m delighted to join the blog tour for Five Minds, the debut thriller from Guy Morpuss and Viper Books. this is a book which certainly piqued my curiosity when I was sent the ARC a couple of months ago by the publisher and I thank them for the advance copy and Anne Cater of Random Things Tours for inviting me to join the tour. Here’s what the book is all about:
About the Book
SHARING A BODY CAN BE MURDER
The Earth’s spiralling population has finally been controlled. Lifespans are limited to eighty years, except for those who make an extreme choice: to become a commune. Five minds sharing one body, each living for four hours at a time. But with a combined lifespan of nearly 150 years.
Alex, Kate, Mike, Sierra and Ben have already spent twenty-five years together in what was once Mike’s body, their frequent personality clashes leading to endless bickering, countless arguments, and getting themselves stranded on a Russian Artic freighter. Wanting to buy upgrades for their next host body, they decide to travel to a Death Park where time can be gambled like money. But things go very wrong when Kate accepts a dangerous offer, and one of them disappears.
Someone is trying to kill off members of the commune. But why? Is one of them responsible? Or is an outsider playing a deadly game? It’s hard enough to catch a murderer. It’s almost impossible when you might be sharing a body with them…
This brilliant murder mystery blends classic crime with speculative fiction in a stunning debut.
I genuinely don’t even know where to begin with this review. This, billed as a speculative thriller, is probably about as close to reading Sci-fi as I will ever get. From the very beginning, after just reading the concept and the first chapter or two of the book, it set me in mind of some kind of hybrid between King’s The Running Man, an element of what I assume the premise of The Hunger Games is all about (never watched or read it – sorry) and a little bit of Total Recall if you’re happy for me to add in a none literary 90’s reference. It’s a strange hybrid, very original, totally out of my comfort zone.
And I loved it.
I read this book in a little over an evening. It’s just a fraction over 300 pages so that’s totally plausible, but most books, even the 250 pagers, have been taking me two or three days to complete these days so the fact that this really did have that ‘one more chapter’ vibe that kept me turning well past bedtime and from the moment I woke up (at five am I might add) just to see what was happening. The very styling of the book, switching between the very differing points of view of each of the principal characters, had a very episodic feel to it, but not one where you are willing to wait a week to see what comes next, the Netflix kind where you need to binge watch. And binge-watch I did. Well read at the very least.
The story is set in the not too distant future, where mankind has overrun the limited resources of the planet and population control has taken on a whole new meaning. In order to live beyond the age of seventeen, people are asked to choose from one of several kinds of future existence – to determine which kind of ‘person’ they will be as they grow up. Worker, Hedonist, Android or Commune. I am not going to try and explain each kind of being to you – you should read the book as the author can explain it far better than I ever will, but our protagonists have one thing in common. They all chose to be ‘commune’ essentially meaning they live the next 100+ years of their lives sharing one body.
As the blurb says – five minds in one body, hence the shifting point of view. It has the potential to be very confusing but Guy Morpuss has crafted this book perfectly, each voice so distinct and the character quirks so unique that you never lose the perspective of which of the five you are experiencing life with right now. There are a few retrospective chapters, moments when we learn some of the characters’ past, but mostly the story is told in the here and now where the sense of urgency, and of building threat, is at times quite intense. The pacing is spot on, no single chapter giving us more than is necessary, and reflecting the very limited hour hour window of each character’s conscious day.
That whole concept – of waking up as Kate and going to bed as Alex, not knowing quite what each of the other personalities before you may have done or what risks, or challenges, they may have accepted on your behalf, really adds to some uncertainty and also to the thrill of the ride. The challenges take many different forms but all are played to the death and all are infused with great tension and smile inducing moments. And it is those moments where the author has been highly creative, encompassing riddles and physical threats in amongst the excitement of the hunt/chase. But there is also another, hidden, danger that is threatening the status quo for our protagonists and it is this part of the story that creates the biggest element of mystery and suspense.
In some ways, the concept reminded me of a certain movie from the early 2000’s, but I’m loathe to name it for fear of spoilers for either the film or this book. Needless to say, the book is laced with misdirection and the conflict exists not only within the death park but within the five, very unique, ultimately different minds. I found myself completely invested in each and every character, intrigued by the mystery, and wondering just how they lived a complimentary existence when they are so very different. But it works. The mystery, the action, the subterfuge and the conflict, all combine to make a thriller which had me hooked and engrossed to the very last page.
A very unique, original and beautifully scripted novel that gets one of these from me:
About the Author
Guy Morpuss is a barrister and QC at a commercial law firm in London, specialising in financial and sports law. To the surprise of everyone, including himself, he suddenly found time to write a novel about five people stuck in one body, trying to kill one another. He lives in Surrey with his wife and two children.
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