Killing Time

My first exposure to Caleb Carr’s work was The Alienist, the engaging, if graphic, story of an murder investigation in late 19th century New York. Rooting through the books at the library to see if Carr had done anything more, I came across his latest publication: Killing Time

Killing Time contrasts sharply with The Alienist. Though the lead characted is still a phychologist, he isn’t involved with a murder mystery in the past, but instead a disinformation campaign in the future. I’ve always enjoyed the “Person Living Normal Life is Plucked Out of His World By An Unusual Vehicle and Discovers that Things Aren’t As They Seem” genre (The Matrix, Sewer, Water, Gas: The Public Works Trilogy, Atlas Shrugged), and this is a worthy addition to that body of work.

Carr’s story is an incisive reflection on a love-hate relationship with information technology, and its uses and abuses. He paints a vivid picture of how it can lead people away from the truth, or even to lose touch with what truth is — some of the same themes he explores in a recent article for Salon. The book also manages to be an engaging adventure story at the same time, deftly combining social critique with good storytelling.

Finally, it’s a bit shorter that The Alienist, so if you’d like an introduction to Carr, this is a great entry point.