fifty mice book coverReviewed by Caleb Shadis

Fifty Mice is a thriller. One where you are not sure what is going on, nor is the main character. This is something that could happen if government agents are able to use some of the powers granted to them by some of the anti-terrorist laws. The main character Jay is kidnapped in a subway station and put into ‘protective custody’ for his own good.

We follow Jay as he is whisked away from his life as he knew it and put into protective custody. Jay has no desire to be placed here but his choices are pretty limited: protective custody on a beautiful island with beaches and a low stress ‘job’ or getting shipped to Guantanamo. Not really much of a choice. He is paired with a mother and child who are also in the program and they all pretend to be a family.

Through flashbacks we slowly learn about Jay’s past. We also slowly learn about him through his interactions with the little girl as well as the shrink he has to report to every day for his sessions. The shrink is there to try and help him remember what it was he saw one night in a bar–that he claims he can’t remember. It keeps coming back to him in little flashes, but like most of his past he is actively trying to forget it.

The island itself seems to be filled with those in the program and those protecting the ones in the program. There are also enough regular citizens that it is important to keep up the charade. Jay struggles under the enforced detention and plans on making an escape. Someone else who made the attempt came back in a body bag, so it requires a lot of planning and an element of surprise.

There is a LOT going on in this book and it took me quite a while to understand most of what was happening. This can be a bit disconcerting in a book but the end tied up very nicely; it turned out to be a rather ingenious little puzzle that fit together very well. This mystery isn’t for everyone but I found it to be very well done. The references to lab test mice throughout lend a sense of foreshadowing to the proceedings.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Caleb is a software engineer and amateur woodworker living in southern Minnesota. He has more hobbies than he has time or money for, and enjoys his quiet time reading.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Blue Ryder Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.