“Bernstein sets us in a post-pandemic time just the barest bit beyond our own, on the way to a dystopia that feels too frightening and too familiar. A thoughtful, complex, well-executed novel—not a who-done-it? but a much scarier what-in-the-hell-is-happening?”
--Robert Kanigel, Hearing Homer’s Song and The Man Who Knew Infinity
“A scarily prescient novel that deftly explores the fraught connections between individuality, society, public policy, and technology.”
--Courney Harler, Harler Literary LLC
“An emotional, haunting tale leaves you with more questions than answers, and that's a good thing. A memorable and timely reminder that there are no easy solutions when fear and conspiracy feed like hungry beasts and the innocent exist simply for the taking.”
--PJ McIlvaine, screenwriter, My Horrible Year
The Potrero Complex is set in a familiar-feeling near-future world in Maryland, following five years of a pandemic that has changed everything.
Journalist Rags Goldner is sick of covering the devastation that is big-city Baltimore, and seeks a quieter refuge in smaller town Canary. But adversity follows her in the form of a missing teenager case that commands her attention and her reporter's eye for detail, and suddenly Rags is involved over her head in a dilemma that moves from the fate of one missing teen to a plot that involves much more: "Rags hadn’t been in town five minutes and already she could tell things were going to get complicated—and complicated was the very thing she and Flint were trying to get away from."
The post-pandemic world Rags navigates contains many vestiges of modern-day experience, giving it a realistic tone that eases readers into an immediate future that feels all too possible: "Over half the people in the room wore respies—the latest generation of facemask respirators, which looked like translucent teardrops covering the nose and mouth; they simply could not believe that the era of contagion was actually over. Rags did not count herself among them, putting herself automatically at odds with many of those around her. At least no one was required to wear a respie now—a small sign of progress."
As she probes missing papers, a troubling puzzle, a conspiracy, and a growing mystery that reaches out to affect her life, Rags leads readers on a journey replete with health hazards, threats, intrigue, and threats not just to individuals, but freedom in America.
Amy Bernstein's ability to place all these forces and influences in perspective gives the story a powerful tone that makes for absolutely compelling reading.
Anyone immersed in the experience and possible outcomes of social change after this pandemic will find The Potrero Complex frightening and hard to put down, presenting thought-provoking insights on the progress and erosion of freedom in the name of safety and social preservation.
It's a story highly recommended for libraries interested not just in thriller and suspense stories, but accounts that encourage close examination of liberty, life, and making a stand to preserve both against all odds.
Book club readers will find these themes packed with discussion points, while those interested in mystery and suspense will find this social inspection firmly rooted in a compelling drama that features a surprising outcome.