Jigsaw, by Kathleen Nance

>> Tuesday, January 10, 2006

The first Kathleen Nance book I read, Day of Fire, blew me away. At last, a futuristic world that actually did feel futuristic, not some kind of cheesy 70s "barbarian in space" fantasy.

Jigsaw was Nance's very next book. I was especially interested in the AI angle. Being a huge fan of Catherine Asaro's futuristic AI-related romances, it sounded like the perfect book for me.


Headlights in a blizzard, a car following too close, too fast, left Bella Quintera wrecked by the side of the road. Such reckless driving, especially in Michigan's Upper Peninsula, seemed ominous. The identity of her rescuer confirmed Bella's fears. Years before, Daniel Champlain had been her lover, but the relationship was one she strove to forget. The NSA agent's rugged good looks still haunted her-as did his betrayal.


She'd watched him destroy her father; now Daniel demanded Bella listen. She was in danger. He wanted to know about her new creation, about its implications for national security. What she'd designed was worth killing for; but was a master criminal truly after her-or was it Daniel, again pursuing his ambition, thoughtlessly flipping her life upside down? The peril was real, no game like the jigsaw puzzles she made in her spare time. And this puzzle had missing pieces: the ones that showed whom she could trust.
A really cool book. Smart and modern, combining a fascinating suspense plot which was actually suspenseful and a lovely romance which was actually romantic. A B+.

On the romance front Jigsaw has a reunited lovers plot which works. When Daniel and Bella first met, the attraction was instantaneous and they gave in to it. Things were going fine, until a few days later, when Daniel did his job and reviewed Bella's father work... finding some of the data had been faked. Bella, believing her father's denials, felt betrayed and cut off that relationship completely.

Now Daniel has again been sent on a mission involving the Quinteras, a mission which also includes finding out if his suspicions are correct and Dr. Lionel Quintera has developed a viable Artificial Intelligence (sorry if the technical terms aren't correct!). He hasn't, but we soon find out Bella has, an AI named Fran with whom she plans to enter the Turing Competition. Not if the bad guys get it first, though!

The conflict between these two was very well done. I bought the reasons for their estrangement, the reasons why each thought they were doing the right thing. And even when they found out the truth about the incident in the past, there was still plenty of conflict, with Daniel torn between wanting to protect Bella and help her, and his duty to his country. Bella knows this perfectly, so her refusal to completely trust him feels understandable.

In addition to this, there were certain personal issues to confront, as well. It's not wholly a book driven by external conflict. Daniel has certain issues with intimacy and really sharing himself, while Bella needs to get over some trust issues. But for both the internal and the external conflict, I really liked how Nance had them work through them until I was sure they'd succeeded and could really make it as a couple.

Plus, for a book that had so much going out outside of the protagonists' relationship, Nance managed to create some wonderfully hot sexual tension between Bella and Daniel. Unfortunately, the payoff was a bit lacking, especially the first love scene, which Nance completely skipped. Only thing I didn't like about the romance, that.

The suspense (or rather, it might be better called a thriller) was just fascinating and skillfully developed. It combined terrorism, hacktivism, gaming, AI, a shadowy research institute and plenty of bad guys. As with Day of Fire, I loved the juxtaposition between super high-tech (I get the feeling this is set in the near future) and Nature at its most powerful, in the Northern Michigan winter. And, as Renée said, this one was perfect to read in the very hot summer here.

Anyone knows what's next for Nance? The "Upcoming" section of her website is woefully out of date... it still announces Day of Fire. I hate it when that happens!


Post a Comment

Blog template by simplyfabulousbloggertemplates.com

Back to TOP