F9 by Michael McBride
DarkFuse, June 6, 2013
DarkFuse, June 6, 2013
The rate of violent crime is on the rise, and nowhere is this more evident than in the state of Colorado.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me...
It's called Acute High-Altitude Neuropathic Dissociation—or, more commonly, Mile High Syndrome—and Dr. Ellis Randall Harding, a neurologist, is determined to understand why. For him, it's personal. He was there on September 24th, 1994 when a gunman walked into the library and started shooting.
I once was lost, but now I'm found…
The answer is locked inside the mind of a monster who shot and killed nine people in 1968. The problem is he's in a vegetative state and incapable of communicating with anyone, except for Dr. Harding, who has figured out how to utilize medical imaging technology to amplify and interpret the killer's brain activity.
Was blind but now I see…
But as Dr. Harding learns, there are some things that mankind was never meant to understand. Chief among them, the true nature of evil.
F9 is a new novella by Michael McBride. Mass murders are on the rise all over, but especially in Colorado according to research by Dr. Ellis Randall Harding. He is determined to talk to a surviving perpetrator of an event that happened years ago.
"His name was Niall Lester Davenport and on December 12, 1968, he walked into a crowded ski lodge in Breckenridge, Colorado, wearing a white ski suit and balaclava and opened fire with a twelve-gauge pump-action Remington shotgun. Nine people were killed. Another twenty-two received various degrees of medical treatment. Eyewitness accounts couldn’t agree as to how many times he stopped to reload, but all of them concurred when it came to the fact that not only had he taken his time, he had hummed the entire while. I simply called him Subject F-Zero, or FØ. (Location 29-33)
The trouble is that Davenport has lapsed into a vegetative state and he is completely unresponsive to outside stimuli. Dr. Harding has a theory that he wants to test: is geography, something in the actual physical location of the front range in Colorado, some how responsible for producing mass murderers?
McBride has Harding introduce himself to us and his theory:
"My name is Dr. Ellis Randall Harding M.D. and I’m a neurologist. I also completed an additional neuroradiology fellowship, which allows me to interpret, if not formally diagnose, CT—computed tomography—and MR—magnetic resonance—medical imaging scans. I’ve spent the majority of my adult life and the entirety of my professional career researching the unique phenomenon I’ve coined the “Mile High Syndrome,” or, more formally, Acute High-Altitude Neuropathic Dissociation. (Location 81-84)"
Dr. Harding was himself a victim of a school shooting incident in 1994, which fuels his desire to find an answer.
"I found myself gazing into the abyss from beneath a table in Norlin Library on the University of Colorado campus in Boulder, Colorado, on September 26, 1994. I’m sure you remember the date. Definitely not one anyone around here is likely to forget anytime soon. (Location 123-124)"
While he utilizes magnetic imaging to unlock the secrets hidden in Davenport's brain, Dr. Harding's research may uncover facts he didn't know existed and set into motion actions he can't control.
In F9, McBride has written a fast-paced, satisfying, extremely well written novella. It's material of this quality that makes me a fan of short stories. (Perhaps a collection could be released someday?)
I very highly recommend F9.
Disclosure: My Kindle edition was courtesy of DarkFuse via Netgalley for review purposes.