From there, Kelley offers a sprawling, thoughtful epic involving intelligence agencies that the heroes bested in the previous book, a terrifying secret society, a “brain-mapping quantum computer” capable of controlling the human mind, and the tantalizing truth, teased early on, that “Our science fiction was the government’s secret truth.” Thriller readers should be aware that, among the many surprises on offer, Kelley favors thinking through the spiritual and philosophical implications of his ideas over fisticuffs and chases, though bursts of action (such as a set piece involving a wildfire or a showdown involving a branding) are handled with crisp clarity.
The second in a projected trilogy, The Devil’s Calling again centers the romance between its leads, and their embrace of spiritual practice—they meditate more often than they throw punches. That emphasis (and a luminous ending) will please readers who share that inclination, though the near-future technology is not developed to the standards of tech-thrillers. Refreshingly, narrator McQueen actually thinks like a lit prof, offering “a prayer that Dickens, not Kafka, would be the author of my ending.”
Takeaway: An ambitious thriller, blending science, spiritualism, advanced AI, and possible alien abduction.
Great for fans of: Marcel Theroux’s Strange Bodies, Ramez Naam’s Nexus Trilogy.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A