February 18, 2012

The Placebo Effect by David Rotenberg
Touchstone | 352 pp | $29.95

Before you read this excellent new novel by Torontonian Rotenberg, best known for his mysteries set in China, you have to know two things. The first is that the opening is slow to evolve, and bodies donít drop fast. The second is that the idea of synesthesia Ė a condition where people see truth or lies in colour Ė was a plot in the brilliant The Fallen, by T. Jefferson Parker. You may think this is a clone. Itís not.

Decker Roberts is an acting teacher with a profitable sideline. His gift of synesthesia lets him know when people are lying, and corporations pay very well for that information. Just let Decker sit in on conferences or interviews and youíve got the truth.

When things start to go wrong for Decker, he thinks itís one of the phonies he spotted, but he soon realizes that thereís a lot more to it than corporate intrigue. Soon Decker is alone and on the run, and whoever ruined his life is after him, and not the only one on the trail. After the necessarily slow opening, this novel heats up and never stops.