Miller has created a wonderfully loopy world where there's almost no line between the physical and the mental--Turner’s study in logic has helped make him a formidable fighter. Indeed, the novel teems with historical, scientific, and literary surprises: Miller slips in fun facts about ciphers from ancient Rome to the Civil War and also connects the Tree of Knowledge system with the biblical tree of knowledge. Amusingly, the members of Turner's support group all have names taken from Paradise Lost. These good-natured twists come again and again, so readers are likely to forgive the occasionally fantastic plot and the rather abrupt ending, which might get further resolved in promised sequels.
For a thriller, the protagonists are an unusual bunch: Puddles and Ying gamely try to function outside of academia with limited success, and Albert is mystified when his colleagues are astonished by his eating habits—nothing but protein bars. But Puddles is more than a collection of humorous tics, as we see when the hyper-logical professor breaks down under the onslaught of true emotion he's spent his life trying to avoid. With offbeat characters, brain teasers, and imaginative action, readers will be eager to see what trouble Puddles and Ying get into next.
Takeaway: Vividly eccentric characters who rely on intellect as much as weapons make this a thriller fans are likely to remember.
Great for fans of: Dan Brown, Umberto Eco
Design and typography: B+
Marketing copy: A-