What happens after we die?
Bright lights, hellfire, reincarnation? Or nothing? For lapsed Christian Jim Byrd, who suffered cardiac arrest and briefly ‘died’ aged 33, it’s the latter – and he can think of little else.
Preoccupied by a seemingly haunted property and fighting the jealousy he feels over his wife’s first – dead – husband, Jim turns to the fledgling ‘Church of Search’ for answers.
Jim’s not the only one with unanswered questions: the narrative is punctuated with unfollowed leads, from jumbled flashbacks to implications about hackers and holograms.
This confusion is compounded by Virginia-based writer Thomas Pierce’s inventive plotting: he cut his teeth with short stories and tries to bring their tantalising nature to his debut novel, but doesn’t hit the mark.
Early mundane stretches make the climax seem almost rushed, so it’s a credit to Pierce’s engaging prose that the reader sticks with him, patiently awaiting the next development – which pays off, eventually.