Title: Rats in a Maze
Author: Peter Bailey
Genre: Science Fiction / Detective Thriller
Rats in a Maze centers NYPD Detectives Ray Fisher. At first, he thinks he’s investigating a typical car accident case. But as he delves deeper into their investigation, he realizes that things just aren’t adding up. When Ray and his police partner Brad both experience a peculiar synchronicity, they discover a secret elite group with unimaginable power. The detectives attempt to expose the secret society, only to find out that the government, including the police force they work for, covers for the elite group.
When Ray and Brad initially realize something about their case is fishy, they continue their investigation off the books to find out what’s really going on. Ray and Brad’s sleuthing leads them to the conclusion that there is an elite group controlling individuals and parts of society.
They come to this conclusion almost abruptly, and the clues and connections they make are a bit convenient and contrived. It isn’t always clear how the detectives decode the clues correctly every time as well as make all the right connections so quickly and easily. With more time and space, the truth would have been revealed in a much more natural, less linear way. In addition, readers would have been able to develop their own predictions and connect some clues on their own, creating a more engaging experience.
The first half of the novel is more plot-driven and fast-paced, while the second half is character-focused and slower-paced. These changes in pacing are sure to keep readers on their toes. At the halfway point, the mystery of who/what the secret society is essentially is solved and we pivot to the characters’ lives after “knowing what they can’t unknow.” This allows readers to spend the rest of the novel getting to know the characters more intimately.
The strongest parts of the book are the character study portions. In particular, Ray’s backstory is emotional and learning about his flawed history will allow readers to empathize and connect with him in a deeper way. Each of the main characters are deeply flawed. Their shortcomings and difficult histories are what make them interesting, relatable, and complex.
The development and eventual blossoming of the relationship between the lead male and female character is slow and steady, but not entirely convincing. Without the proper amount of build-up and tension, the romantic connection felt a bit forced and out of place.
The book closes with a series of intense, action-packed scenes. The ending takes an unorthodox turn with trippy, almost horror-like details which adds to the book’s offbeat, complex nature and subject. Though unexpected, this ending rounded out the novel with a bang that will definitely be memorable for readers.
What would you do if you knew that the world wasn’t as it seems? A creative, eccentric story, Rats in a Maze will take readers on a wild ride as they uncover the secrets of a hidden elite society. Bailey has created the perfect balance between a traditional detective thriller and a modern-day contemporary. With action, suspense, and mystery combined with timely, controversial conspiracy theories, Rats in a Maze is sure to be memorable.
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