A NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW EDITORS’ CHOICE
A futuristic thriller about climate change by the acclaimed screenwriter of First Cow, Meek’s Cutoff, and HBO’s Mildred Pierce.
The year is 2052. Climate change has had a predictably devastating effect: Venice submerged, cyclones in Oklahoma, megafires in South America. Yet it could be much worse. Two decades earlier, the global protest movement known as the Upheavals helped break the planet’s fossil fuel dependency, and the subsequent Nuremberg-like Toronto Trials convicted the most powerful oil executives and lobbyists for crimes against the environment. Not all of them. A few executives escaped arrest and went into hiding, including pipeline mastermind Robert Cave.
Now, a Pacific Northwest journalist named Jack Henry who works for a struggling media company has received a tip that Cave is living in Mexico. Hoping the story will save his job, he travels south and, using a fake identity, makes contact with the fugitive. The two men strike up an unexpected friendship, leaving Jack torn about exposing Cave—an uncertainty further compounded by the diagnosis of a life-threatening illness and a new romance with an old acquaintance. Who will really benefit from the unmasking? What is the nature of justice and punishment? How does one contend with mortality when the planet itself is dying?
Denial is both a page-turning speculative suspense novel and a powerful existential inquisition about the perilous moment in which we currently live.
The engaging speculative latest from screenwriter and novelist Raymond (Freebird) imagines a future in which a slew of energy executives and lobbyists have been convicted of environmental crimes. In 2052, reporter Jack Henry is hot on the trail of Robert Cave, a former fossil fuel official who fled the U.S. during the trials in 2032, was convicted in absentia, and has never paid for his offenses. After one of Jack's sources spots Cave in Guadalajara, Jack convinces his boss to send him to Mexico to ferret Cave out. Jack scouts Cave at a museum caf , and Cave strikes up a conversation with him. The two meet again the next day, and as Jack is introduced to Cave's new life, he grows fond of his target, who knows nothing of Jack's planned exposure, and wrestles with the ramifications of following through with his scheme. The narrative works best when it focuses on Jack and Cave, as their interactions drive the novel into unexpected directions. Less successful is a tame romance subplot between Jack and an old friend. Still, Raymond satisfies with a clever vision of a not-too-distant future. The moral ambiguity at the center leaves readers with much to chew on. Agent: Bill Clegg, Clegg Agency.