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Formats
Kindle Edition eBooks Details
  • 06/2019
  • 978-1-949059-14-4 B07S6HC4KR
  • 365 pages
  • $3.99
Inside the Masque
In a future where everyone wears a masque, no one needs a phone, a credit card, or any ID. The masque itself is everything to everyone. But as exquisite as a masque might be, it can’t keep you safe. Nothing can. And when everyone wears a masque, anyone could be a killer. Now it’s up to Chief Inspector McNair and his team of dedicated experts to find that killer. They must uncover the secrets and lies that dwell inside every beautiful masque. And they’ll stop at nothing until they find the truth—no matter how ugly it turns out to be.
Reviews
Lipkin (Now Playing on Outworld 5730) packs this ambitious, noirish futuristic murder mystery with characters whose romantic dreams and liaisons revolve around status and identity in a stratified society. All people—lofty “legacies,” middle-class “aboves,” and downtrodden “unders”—hide their ugly human behind gorgeous technological “masques” and use social circuits that are wired directly into the brain and provide witty banter on tap. “Unmasqueing” for a partner is the ultimate intimacy. On the brink of momentous success, a powerful figure in the masque business is murdered by a newly installed circuit. Investigating, Detective McNair and his team discover ties to an older crime and a potentially fatal flaw in their society’s dependence upon masques.

This challenging, genre-blending work, 100 chapters long and packed with far too many characters, requires the reader to follow meandering paths parallel to the murder mystery, exploring a woman’s desperation to have her fabula (visual media) script produced, a wealthy man’s distaste for life, a fabula producer’s affair with the dead woman’s former employee, and retreats where people remove their masques to “disconnect and transcend.” These elements eventually prove relevant, but the structure is far from a straightforward investigative plot. The masque-related worldbuilding is filled in swiftly and well, but the late introduction of a cryptic invisible gateway upends it in baffling ways. The writing is swift and fluid, with few stumbles other than some blunt and tedious sex scenes. Readers may flinch when characters describe genius masque designer Van Etten as a “cripple,” though the usage is clearly rooted in the characters’ obsession with maintaining status through scornful oppression.

Lipkin’s blend of genres will reward readers who enjoy unpredictability and leisurely pacing. The narrative critiques the masques’ ill effects, showing the cruel arrogance of legacies and aboves, and ends on a high note. The broad scale of the plot and large cast of thinly described characters with disparate arcs become overwhelming, but a round of successful romantic resolutions provides a welcome sense of closure.

Takeaway: Readers willing to think outside the murder-mystery box will enjoy exploring this ambitious mash-up of procedural, romance, and futuristic social commentary.

Great for fans of John Varley’s Steel Beach, Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.

Production grades
Cover: B
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: -
Editing: A
Marketing copy: C

Formats
Kindle Edition eBooks Details
  • 06/2019
  • 978-1-949059-14-4 B07S6HC4KR
  • 365 pages
  • $3.99

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