The Speed of Life
It is rare that a book, nominally a thriller, turns into a wandering exploration of philosophy, science, and mysticism. Speed of Life uses the framework of a basic thriller and uses it to explore more than just who did it and why. The lives of the various characters weave together to create a story that, at times, dives into more of a philosophical exploration of time, space, and Seminole shamanism. And even with the asides, the basics of the story progress along, unfolding to the reader in pieces.
Estella Verus is a federal prosecutor working a Ponzi scheme trial. One evening, while her son is out late, violating his probation, Estella is attacked and raped by an intruder who tells her that her son, Andrew, owes him, and the attack is a message. The following morning, the police arrest Andrew, suspecting him of tipping off the attacker, but Estella believes in his innocence. The various major players in the story all appear from their relationships with Estella and Andrew as she recovers from the attack and defends Andrew from the new charges. Andrew’s defense attorney had unreturned feelings for Estella’s boss from their high school days and now finds himself single after a failed marriage and unsuccessful relationships, putting Estella in an uncomfortable middle position. Andrew’s great-grandmother is a Seminole shaman and foretold that Andrew would be responsible for Estella’s attack.
James Jordan plays a lot with perspective, moving from first to third person, and forward and backward in time with multiple flashbacks. While the majority of the changes flow within the story, sometimes the reader needs to pause to place themselves back with the correct character and time to immerse themselves back into the storyline. While Estella and Andrew’s plight is the focus of the story, sometimes it feels as if they’re only a vehicle to the philosophy that underlies Speed of Life and Jordan’s exploration of writing. While not fast paced, Speed of Life doesn’t wander too far from the story path, providing a satisfactory conclusion for the reader and an engaging first book for Jordan.