by Jack L. Kennedy--
Are you certain you know where you are? Or even who you are? Do forces keep shifting around you? Are you finding that what you thought was reality is actually mystical, a figment of your imagination? Does it scare you into, perhaps, hiring a young attorney? If so, you will enjoy a creative, intriguing, first novel, Shifter by Steven D. Jackson (Rhemalda)
Jackson, pictured, is a London lawyer who lives in Southampton. He is a leader of Mensa, the brainy bunch. Think about that for a while. With literary luck, as the sands of time continue to shift, you will hear from him again.
He reveals in an e-mail interview that he was a lad of only 24 when he wrote Shifter. He is now 27.
Says Jackson, “It’s taken a while to get to this point. In honesty, I never really expected to see [it] made into a final novel. It was all so sudden and exciting that I can barely believe it actually happened.”
As a preface to the tight, promising tome, the author tells readers, “In many ways, Shifter represents my attempt to shoe-horn my life into the shape I wanted it to be and celebrates the fact that I eventually managed it, but I couldn’t have done it alone.” He adds that many friends “served unwittingly as inspiration for characters in this book.”
“The main character is a lawyer, yeah, very much like me [at the time of writing],” he admits. “I drew a lot on my own circumstances in the first chapter or two and then made it up. In a way I suppose you could say that Shifter records what I might have wished would happen to me to change a life I wasn’t happy with at the time. But no, it’s not autobiographical in any wider sense.”
Perhaps, he is right, but Shifter is exciting, well-crafted and moving as young professional John Davis tries to figure out why people and physical surroundings seem to change around him.
Is he—or the rest of his environment—mentally ill? What is reality? How could his best friend disappear without a trace?
John runs into “the company” or “the organization,” which at times sounds like Britain’s MI5 or America’s CIA—or, may simply be a paranoid figment of the imagination. Do bring your own imagination as you read this book.
The organization has men and women assigned to be keepers or recallers of the past in case the "shifters" or bad guys or hidden forces try to change too much too fast. Shifters are described by Jackson as people who can change the world around them to fit what they want it to be. "Some are better at it than others,” he reveals. Is John one of them? If so, "the organization" wants him dead.
Poor observers caught up in deaths, psychiatrists, shaky relationships, doubts and fears (sound like your real world?) might not realize anything is shifting at all, at least until it is too late. Perhaps, the locale for chapter 23, the reader will discover, is a major clue to the plot, its meaning, and why the author is who he is....or perhaps not.
This may be the best first novel you read this year. It is certainly the most unusual and the most promising. Good versus evil, definition versus doubt--these themes always make a good read.
Jackson says he was pleasantly surprised when the Moses Lake, Washington publisher picked up his book. He describes his second book completed a few weeks ago as “totally different and in my opinion a lot more exciting. It’s the kind of book I’d actually like to read myself.” Here's hoping his publisher thinks so, too.
Title - Shifter
Author: Steven D. Jackson
Publisher: Rhemalda Publishing (July 1, 2012)
$13.99/paperback; $4.99/Kindle at amazon.com/pp.274; 452 KB