Laura Lam's adult sci-fi debut False Hearts: Two formerly conjoined sisters are ensnared in a murderous plot involving psychoactive drugs, shared dreaming, organized crime, and a sinister cult.
Raised in the closed cult of Mana's Hearth and denied access to modern technology, conjoined sisters Taema and Tila dream of a life beyond the walls of the compound. When the heart they share begins to fail, the twins escape to San Francisco, where they are surgically separated and given new artificial hearts. From then on they pursue lives beyond anything they could have previously imagined.
Ten years later, Tila returns one night to the twins' home in the city, terrified and covered in blood, just before the police arrive and arrest her for murder--the first homicide by a civilian in decades. Tila is suspected of involvement with the Ratel, a powerful crime syndicate that deals in the flow of Verve, a drug that allows violent minds to enact their darkest desires in a terrifying dreamscape. Taema is given a proposition: go undercover as her sister and perhaps save her twin's life. But during her investigation Taema discovers disturbing links between the twins' past and their present. Once unable to keep anything from each other, the sisters now discover the true cost of secrets.
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Lam (the Micah Grey series) sets this encompassing, fast-paced murder mystery in a cyberpunk, late 21st-century San Francisco. Conjoined twins Taema and Tila Collins live in the Mana Hearth's cult in Muir Woods. Under the ruthless thumb of Mana-ma, no technology is allowed and members are subjected to mind-altering Meditation. When the twins' shared heart fails, they escape to the city for separation and artificial hearts. Ten years later, Tila is charged with murdering Vuk, a gangster with the elusive Ratel crime syndicate. Taema goes undercover as Tila and discovers the underground drug Verve, which sucks users into a virtual reality nightmare of violence. Alternating first-person perspectives from each twin, Lam expertly explores themes of identity, totalitarian governments, cults, mind control, and familial love. However, readers who appreciate the accurate portrayal of San Francisco's diverse populace including the twins, who are Samoan and black will be dismayed that the cover obscures the protagonists' faces.