Golden State

Ben H Winters

Book - 2019

A veteran of the Speculative Service in an alternate-world California where the law and truth are valued above all else uses his rare authority to question the facts when truth enforcement is manipulated for corrupt purposes.

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FICTION/Winters, Ben H.
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Thrillers (Fiction)
Dystopian fiction
Suspense fiction
New York : Mulholland Books, Little, Brown and Company 2019.
Main Author
Ben H Winters (author)
First edition
Physical Description
321 pages ; 25 cm
Contents unavailable.
Review by Booklist Review

The author of the Last Policeman trilogy and the stand-alone Underground Airlines (2016) adds another thought-provoking, genre-bending SF thriller to his bibliography. Set in an unspecified distant future, the book tells the story of Lazlo Ratesic, an operative of the Speculative Service (a law-enforcement agency that enforces laws against falsehood), whose pursuit of a murderer leads him to question some of his own deeply held truths. What's especially intriguing about the book is the way Winters dispenses information, dropping a hint here, a key sentence there, and letting us figure out what happened in the past that led to a society in which the punishment for telling a lie could be exile beyond the desert. Winters seems to have a real affection for unusually compelling premises the events of the Last Policeman trilogy take place as an asteroid is bearing down on the earth, and the annihilation of humanity is a certainty and he certainly knows how to bring those premises to life in a way that keeps readers flipping pages. Another fine novel from a writer whose imagination knows no bounds.--David Pitt Copyright 2018 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

This disappointing postapocalyptic thriller from Edgar winner Winters (Underground Airlines) boasts an irresistible setup: in the near future, California is a sovereign state governed by absolute truth, and telling a lie can result in jail time or worse. Laszlo Ratesic, a veteran police officer whose innate ability to know when someone is lying helps him piece together unsolved crimes, investigates the death of a construction worker who fell off of a roof during a job. The seemingly accidental fatality is filled with anomalies, which leads Ratesic and the young female officer he's mentoring to uncover a grand-scale conspiracy with staggering implications. While the story, in which every second of the populace's lives is meticulously recorded, is tonally comparable to Orwell's 1984, the thematic impact simply isn't there. Some of the societal elements seem contrived, such as how every citizen must archive every single life event in a journal, and the reveal at the end is too nebulous to be completely effective. Winters's exploration into the nature of truth will grip many readers, but this ambitious novel misses the mark. Agent: Joelle Delbourgo, Joelle Delbourgo Assoc. (Jan.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Library Journal Review

Speculator Lazlo Ratesic, a special agent of the Golden State, is charged with rooting out lies and deception and upholding the truth. He's given an assignment and an assistant on the same day, and what at first appears to be a routine investigation proves to have some disturbing anomalies. A roofer has fallen to his death while on the job, but when Lazlo probes deeper he discovers layers of deceit, leading him to conclude that something is rotten in the Golden State. This new work of speculative fiction by best-selling author Winters ("Last Policeman" trilogy) takes place in a fallen society that puts truth on a pedestal, fortified by foundations of precise and exhaustive documentation, and explores the dire consequences of doubt and a loss of faith in such a system. VERDICT Highly recommended for fans of dystopian fiction, especially those who enjoy classics of the genre, such as George Orwell's 1984 and Aldous Huxley's Brave New World. [See Prepub Alert, 7/9/18.]-Karin Thogersen, Huntley Area P.L., IL © Copyright 2018. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Tell a fib, a whopper, a confabulation in California, and, promises Winters (The Last Policeman, 2013, etc.), you'll wind up in a heap of trouble."Any assault on reality, any infusion of falsehood in the air can't be countenanced, no matter the source." Lying weakens trust, which damages society. It also spoils one's breakfast. Laszlo Ratesic is just tucking into his chicken and waffles as Winters' yarn opens, but then he, a noted "speculator" in the employ of the Speculative Service, happens to catch the tail end of a prevarication. "Somebody's telling lies in here," he pronounces, "and it's making it hard to eat." It's Ratesic's special skill, shared by only a few, to be able to ferret out lies as they're being hatched, in this case by a kid who's been stealing his mom's pills and takes it on the lam, to Ratesic's joy, since "it's the part I like: pure law enforcement, my feet in the boots and the boots on the ground, me breathing heavy and charging after a liar." Alas, even in the independent nation called Golden State, there are those who would adorn and adjust the truth, even when it comes close to Ratesicsay, in the matter of the deceased brother for whom he continues to mourn. And are things really all that horrific out in the country that lies beyond the Shangri-La of free California, where the vaunted "Objectively So" may differ in kind and degree? Well, the mind plays tricks, and so does the tongue, and Ratesic finds himself caught up in a web that even he couldn't foresee. In some details, Winters' story might have fallen out of a forgotten file drawer at Philip K. Dick's pad, though Winters takes a less bleak view of humankind than the master of bad-vibes future California; though somewhat less surprisingly inventive than the author's Underground Airlines (2016), it's still a skillful and swift-moving concoction.For those who like their dystopias with a dash of humor. No lie. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.