Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Book Review: False Hearts by Laura Lam

Pros: great characters, interesting mystery, unique

Cons: a little predictable

Tila and Taema are conjoined twins who grew up in Mana’s Hearth, a cult where meditation and lucid dreaming were an important part of their religious service.  They escaped at 16, and were surgically separated.  Ten years later, Tila arrives at Taema’s apartment, accused of murder.  To clear her sister, Taema must go undercover with the San Francisco Police Department and infiltrate the Ratel, the criminal organization that’s creating a new drug that, when perfected, will allow them to watch and influence dreams.

The book starts with an acknowledgments section, which mentions some of the research the author did into conjoined twins and cults, in order to get the details right.  The book is fascinating and the research shows in the conflicted feelings the twins have regarding their upbringing, their former beliefs, how they interact with each other and outsiders, etc.  The protagonists are wonderfully complex and I loved learning more about them.  I really liked Nazarin, Taema’s undercover partner, as well. 

The story takes a number of twists and turns as the mystery unfolds.  The main story is Taema going undercover, but the narrative switches to Tila writing about how they left Mana’s Hearth.  I did find that as time went on a few of the twists became predictable, but I really enjoyed watching the characters reactions to the various revelations.

It did surprise me that no one considered that Taema’s scar would be on the opposite side from Tila’s when they were made to look alike.  For the most part this wouldn’t be an issue, but there is one scene where that should have come up and given her identity away.  [ETA: I got a tweet from the author explaining that due to the amount of reconstructive surgery the girls needed, the scars are on the same side.]

The subject matter’s pretty dark so but it’s an enjoyable book, and I whipped through it in a weekend, wanting to find out what happens next.  So if you’re looking for a mystery with some unique elements, give this a try.

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