Proximity (iMe Series #1)
by: Jem Tugwell
Publisher: Serpentine Books
Genre: Techno Thriller/Procedural
You can’t get away with anything. Least of all murder.
DI Clive Lussac has forgotten how to do his job. Ten years of embedded technology – ‘iMe’ – has led to complete control and the eradication of crime. Then the impossible happens. A body is found, and the killer is untraceable. With new partner Zoe Jordan, Clive must re-sharpen his detective skills and find the killer without technology, before time runs out for the next victim…
Leading the trend in speculative crime thrillers, Jem Tugwell’s thrilling and thought-provoking debut sits alongside Black Mirror and The City and the City in a compelling exploration of our near future. Proximity draws on Jem’s 20 years of professional experience as a software developer in the city to give an unnerving insight into how our world might be transformed by the rapid advance in embedded technology and fitness trackers.
What if the cash-strapped public healthcare system can be given a second life by using tech to regulate our health and behaviour?
What if we can eradicate gun, knife and other proximity crimes by tracking everyone’s activity?
What if civil liberty is seen as an acceptable sacrifice for the greater good?
What if the convenience of technology is used for control?
“Proximity is inspired by the fascinating possibilities of technology, AI and the law of unintended consequences. From my own experience, technologists are often amazed or horrified about the other uses that people imagine for their products. Clive and Zoe’s world might be closer than we think, but is it heaven or hell? How do we decide the perfect balance of free will and greater good?” – Jem Tugwell
Proximity is set in a future where technology of override the lives of society as one technology as made everything so functional that it takes away any risks while controlling the every lives of the people which is a foolproof way against crime and tracking the citizens every step of the way. In a world with this technology, the police has also over-relied on this technology, making it hard when an anomaly happens. Of course, that exactly happens. On one hand, Proximity emphasizes the dangers of a society over-reliant on technology but on the other hand, it always shows how sometimes the untraceable element and the part of life that isn’t controlled makes some balance that may work and is needed.
In this sense, the futuristic world and the technology design and how it interacts with the characters is one of the most fascinating part of the mystery. The technology itself has its own life which adds to the characters here who is a team of two detectives: one of which has gone through the old-fashioned, before iMe technology investigation while the newbie is learning how to do this. The story also chooses to let the readers be the third party and see the efforts of this serial killer but never quite reveal who it is but rather the mindset behind its choices, slowly converging the big reveal in the final few chapters. One of the parts that usually work very well to character-building is using different characters’ point of views as a focal point. In this case, the three main characters all have their own chapters that shift between each of them to see their own views and opinions of what is going on and how each of the character develops.
Proximity is a solid page-turner with a lot of potential to build up this new future. Technology is such a key element in the current day that its not hard to imagine a future that could possibly turn out like this one. Its only a matter of time, making this feel rather realistic. At the same time, the plot is executed very impressively, giving it so much room to guess who is the serial killer but never revealing too much too early. Its hard to grasp the pacing in thrillers and Jem Tugwell handles this very well. Proximity sets a great foundation as the starting novel of a series. It’ll be interesting to see where it goes.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am a crime fiction author with a Crime Writing MA from City University. Proximity is my thrilling debut novel, inspired by the fascinating possibilities of technology, AI and the law of unintended consequences. Available on 6 June 2019.
In a past life, I had a successful career in investment management, and now live in Surrey with my wife. I have two great children and dog. Outside of my family and writing, my loves are snowboarding, old cars and bikes.
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