Written by Adrian Dawson — Having attained huge success with the bestseller Codex, Adrian Dawson is back with a book that is a little difficult to describe. It’s not strictly a crime novel, though it displays certain aspects of the genre. It also mixes in science fiction and some thriller tendencies. In terms of plot, it’s a bit like a Dan Brown book, but Dawson’s writing style is distinctly different.
Sequence starts off in Perpignan, France, way back in 1132 with a very coarse character called Michael Davies hiding something in a church. He then kills a knight who’s been pursuing him. The action jumps to present day Los Angeles and detective Nick Lambert is given the job of investigating a John Doe. A man’s naked body has been found. He’s been shot and has a photograph, a note in Latin, and another note saying ‘Tina Fiddes – 113’ all in his rectum, like a drugs mule. Then, in Siberia, an extremely hard and dense meteorite is discovered by a team of ruthless scientists led by a man called Josef Klein.
As you can guess, the storyline is complex and interesting, with the book jumping between the future, the present day and occasionally into the deep past. In the present, hard-drinking, Marlboro-smoking Lambert learns that Tina Fiddes is an institutionalised autistic mute. But when he tracks down her sister Sarah he learns that Tina has extraordinary abilities. She can change sequences of time and space, so she’s telekinetic. Sarah drags Lambert off to France, apparently searching for the tables that Davies hid back in 1132. These artefacts were handed to man by God, and detail the sequence of the universe (which Tina can manipulate).
The events in the future take place mainly in 2043. Klein is an old man but he’s desperate to get his hands on the tables, and will kill to do so. By electromagnetically charging the meteorite, his scientists have discovered that they can release a charge that bends space time and can send living things back centuries. He’s using this to send death row convicts back in time to attempt to steal the tables or bury clues as to where he can dig them up in his present, which is 2043. The intrigue comes as one of his most able employees, Alison Bond, questions the ethics of his program. After all, if he gets the tables and learns the secrets of the universe he’ll become all powerful.
The author does well jumping between different time periods without giving away too many hints that would spoil his carefully planned and unique story. There are also some great thriller-esque sequences full of tension, where you’re guessing all the time at what might happen next. However, after periods of intense action and lots of new revelations, the story tends to fizzle out. Too frequently the characters explain things either to one another or to the reader at length. It could have been much tighter without losing its clever ideas.
Characters like Sarah Fiddes and Nick Lambert come through strongly. The latter narrates his bits in an updated Chandler-esque style. However although they’re American they use an awful lot of British words and turns of phrase. I’ve lived on both sides of the Atlantic and I picked up on this. With a story so far fetched, you need some authenticity to keep you grounded, but LA cops that talk about lifts and hire cars instead of elevators and rentals make you wonder.
It’s a worthwhile read if you keep at it. Although Sequence is complicated it’s not too hard to understand when you’re actually reading it and if you like puzzles and time travel conundrums, you’ll certainly enjoy it. There’s a chapter at the end from Sequoia, the next book in the series, which starts off in England in 1645 during the time of the Witchfinder General and that looks interesting too. You can find out more about Adrian Dawson and his books in our interview with him here.
CFL Rating: 3 Stars