To Wander The Labyrinth—
One of the great things about this book is that early on, the reader realizes the the protagonist of the story tortures people. This is not your typical main character of a novel. His name is Clay and he is an interrogator for the “agency,” a part of a totalitarian government that appears to be the United States at some future time, mainly because the characters speak “American.” It’s a place where people that disagree with the state disappear, where dead bodies are thrown in trucks and discarded, never to be heard from again. The author, Brian Peters, doesn’t clarify where or when this is, or whether it is a right-wing or left-wing dystopian world, but history tells us with great clarity that totalitarianism can come from both ends of the spectrum, so it hardly matters. When people are treated as property in service of the state, and anyone who disagrees is the enemy, to be dealt with by any means necessary, you’ve got totalitarianism.
Also interesting is that the victim in this chapter-less book, Maya, becomes the main character that could possibly bring redemption to Clay, a man with serious “issues,” a man whose humanity is in question. How could he not have issues, given his personal history? After all, he wrote the book on the best methods to secure needed information—in Maya’s case, “data” of unknown content, but obviously significant in the suspenseful story that unfolds. Over time, we get a sense of the deep psychological damage done to Clay, by his chosen profession.
There are minor characters revealed, but we never know much about them, only that which helps move the story along.
The book is only two-hundred thirty-eight pages long and it is crisp writing, sparse in details, and with sharp dialog—a quick read. The title is an excellent choice, and its sparseness is what I liked about the book. The author treats the reader as an adult and allows one to fill in the pieces that aren’t clarified…to use one’s imagination. And I thought the ending was as it should have been. For a quick suspenseful and very different novel, Brian Peters’ first novel is definitely worth a look.