If you’ve read any of Max Barry’s previous works ― particularly “Lexicon,” which remains the gold standard for a rip-roaring, up-all-night page-turner ― you won’t need any prompting to pick up “The 22 Murders of Madison May.” The guy writes tornado-paced blockbusters; techno-thrillers in the vein of Michael Crichton, with the pell-mell velocity of Blake Crouch. His latest is another relentless genre mashup: a dimension-hopping psychological thriller about one woman’s pursuit of a serial killer across parallel earths.
Barry is a spectacular entertainer. But plenty of writers can conjure a high concept; a “what if” scenario. A select few are able to marry this with a cast of characters the reader cares about, that are developed beyond caricatures, or fodder to be annihilated in epic circumstances as dictated by an outlandish plot. The titular Madison May, for example ― the serial victim ― is fleshed out beyond mere prey, or a plot device, as each iteration of her is granted page-time to further establish her.
“The 22 Murders of Madison May” is a thriller of cyclonic speed and intensity. Barry has a gift for sustaining momentum that never lets up, and for creating scenarios and characters you won’t soon forget.
Available: 30th June 2021
Publisher: Hachette Australia