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**** - Past Crimes


PAST CRIMES

JASON PINTER

****


Welcome to Earth+. The year is 2037, and nearly all human interactions have migrated to the virtual world. Now, true crime fans don't just listen to podcasts or watch documentaries - they participate in hyper-realistic simulations and hunt for clues to solve the most famous and gruesome crimes in history. Criminal entertainment is a multibillion-dollar industry, and at the forefront is Past Crimes: known by its millions of fans as the Disneyland of Death.


Cassie West licenses crimes for V.I.C.E, spending long hours convincing grieving families to allow her to sell their tragedies to the highest bidder. Life is hard, and the cost of living high, but she and her husband Harris have never been happier. After years of trying, Cassie is finally pregnant.


But leaving work late one evening, Cassie starts to worry. Harris isn't responding to texts or calls. Even worse, dozens of emergency drones seem to be heading in the same direction as she is: straight to their home.


What she finds there changes everything. Soon, Cassie finds herself in a fight for survival, becoming a target in both the real and virtual worlds. But it's not just her own life at stake. If Cassie can't uncover the truth of what happened to her husband, thousands more may die . . .


MY REVIEW

****


As someone who really enjoys listening to True Crime podcasts and reading Sci-Fi, I was excited to read Past Crimes. Set in 2037, life is now played out in the virtual space of Earth+ where a ‘Disneyland of Death’ has been developed, giving True Crime fans the chance to virtually experience crimes, look for clues and try and solve mysteries first-hand.


This standalone sci-fi book may be relatively short, at under 300 pages but it’s perfectly paced, and I was gripped throughout. We follow Cassie on her mission to clear her husbands name after he was implicated in a mass arson attack years earlier. Cassie is a complex character and I felt empathy for her throughout as she tried to adjust to her new life.


I did feel that it was an odd choice to decide to set the book only 13 years in the future. The idea that an entire virtual world, new terminology and the wasting away of the real-life world would have happened in that time seems a bit of a stretch of the imagination and the whole thing relies on some serious suspension of disbelief. There are references to real people and actual cases which meant that it jarred slightly – if it were set 50 years in the future, I think it would have been a lot more believable.


The world building is great though and I did really enjoy learning about the backstory - the idea that Earth+ is used for schooling and work but still harms the users bodies from overuse was interesting. Some explanations did feel a little like a convenient ‘info-dump’ though and some parts are quite repetitive in places.


The plot has some great twists and turns and the plot is left a little open for a possible sequel but also ties up all the main strands nicely. I found it hard to put down and read it in just a few sittings.


Overall Past Crimes is an engaging and interesting Sci-Fi that’s paced well and hard to put down. Thank you to NetGalley & Severn House for the chance to read the ARC in exchange for an honest review.


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