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Karen’s Pick of the Week: The 22 Murders of Madison May by Max Berry

Attention all trekkies!  Do you remember the episode “Mirror, Mirror” with the darkside Kirk and Spock (aggressive, mistrustful and opportunistic) from a parallel universe? Trivia time: that parallel universe is used in 8 episodes of various Star Trek series.  It seems that the concept of a multiverse has appeal to many sci-fi fans, including this one.  In The 22 Murders of Madison May by Max Barry, there are unlimited parallel universes and poor Madison can’t seem to get away from the psycho who keeps jumping from one to the other with a set of knives.

While the concept of murder is hardly something to laugh at, the novel does take a somewhat lighter approach to the whole situation than the reader might expect.  After all, there is always another Maddie in another parallel world.  Actually, it is somewhat fun to see how Maddie keeps changing from universe to universe.  She is a likeable character.  Luckily, the murderer Clayton Hors is being pursued by another traveler, Hugo Garrelly (who has escaped from Sing Sing!).  So the reader is given hope that the murders will stop (at least before reaching 23).

Just for the fun of it, Barry adds a female reporter, Felicity, to the chase. After following Hugo, she finds herself suddenly transported without any warning of what is happening.  Every universe she lands in is just a little different from the last. In one she is missing a cat, in another an annoying clock.  Her boyfriend keeps changing too. Eventually the reader is introduced to a whole group of universe jumpers.

Touted as a psychological thriller, this novel from the author of Jennifer Government and Lexicon is full of action and has a satisfying conclusion.

Portrait of Australian novelist, Max Barry. Photograph by Chris Hopkins

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