August 16th, 2016 | (updated)
Ramsey New Jersey author Ray Deeg has struck gold with his new thriller, Edwin’s Reflection. The novel, set in NYC, New Jersey and Tuxedo Park is one of those perfect stories for reading under a tree this summer. The story opens with a resentful man named Randall Evans staring down from his office window into Federal plaza. We quickly learn that Randall’s grandfather was one of the very first agents to serve in the FBI and had spent endless summer afternoons telling the young Randall fascinating tales about government agents tracking the world’s most brilliant scientists in a race for the discovery and control of the greatest secret in the universe. “It’s your destiny boy, your legacy”, his grandfather would tell young Randall. Now older, Randall had long been obsessed with those childhood stories and the destiny his grandfather promised. But it didn’t happen and he wondered whether he’d made up all those stories in his head.
He was bitter, he wanted to exert his power over others, wanted to punish them for going about their happy lives while he was left behind. He wanted the destiny his grandfather promised. But destiny like evolution moves intentionally and purposely on its quest to become; it can be detoured, even stalled temporarily, but finding a way back on to its original path is inevitable.
When a wealthy old man slits his wrists attempting to “pull back the curtain on the universe” while restarting a bizarre machine, the decades old government cover-up begins to unravel pushing Randall’s destiny back on track. All sorts of people and things get activated as only the 21st century can. For example, a decades old trust at JP Morgan begins mailing insightful instructions to various characters in the story. After receiving one of the letters, technology CEO Tom Hartger visits an antique shop and stumbles onto a medal that had been awarded to a famous physicist from the 1920s. Tom discovers a journal and old photo inside the medal’s case and reads about a machine whose function is able to “allow a man’s mind, his very soul to pierce the curtain of this plain and travel across that distance which is unfathomable.” When Tom discovers that the shopkeeper has been murdered, he realizes he’s found something incredible. Tom follows the trail to the cloistered sanctuary of Tuxedo Park New York and former residence of Alfred Lee Loomis, an enigmatic and reclusive Wall Street tycoon from the 1920s and 30s who financed his own science laboratory famously nicknamed The Palace of Science. Tom is joined by a former love interest, psychiatrist Gwen Pierce, who is eager to share her real time framework for clear thinking which becomes surprisingly useful given these strange events unfolding.
But Tom, Gwen and Randall aren’t the only ones on the hunt. The FBI, Homeland Security and an Eastern Indian billionaire are equally determined to reach the “spaces in between”. As the clues pile higher the chase leads the groups to NYC landmarks like the Natural History Museum, the Cathedral of Saint John the Divine and The Waldorf Astoria where each character discovers a far deeper connection to the past, to the machine, and to each other. The scenes are creatively crafted, and the contrasts between the modern day setting and the history of famous physicists from the 20’s and 30’s works incredibly well.
The theme of pulling back the curtain on the universe and how the observer’s mind forms reality are perfectly combined and fundamental to understanding Edwin’s Reflection. Once I started reading this novel, I couldn’t stop. I was hypnotized. After about 50 pages I began to detect something in between the lines; a very specific plot twist that simmers deep in the mind. It reveals itself gradually over the course of the story. You hear an emerging theme in each character’s dialogue, and in the journals written by the scientists that Tom and Gwen are tracking. Slowly, inevitably it comes together perfectly but it wasn’t what I initially suspected.
Edwin’s Reflection is well structured and it is infinitely clear what is happening. The author does a good job allowing you to discover real life historical facts about the people and landmarks in the story and he connects them beautifully. So many novels have enemies that you know are the bad guy, not this one. While some of the characters do terribly bad things and you suspect that they are evil, they all have reasons that are well justified and I felt empathy for their struggle. So who is the real enemy? Ray Deeg’s answers to these questions reveal a complex interconnectedness about how the universe and the human mind work as one inseparable piece. The story plays colors and contrasts almost anyone can relate to about the pace and tone of this technological age which renders no account of itself. The story dispels an aggravatingly neat and clichéd ending in which the “bad guy” is defeated. Such tidy conclusions are irritating in a novel but the ending here is yet another twist that left me completely satisfied, nearly cleansed. I fell in love with the characters, the settings and the plot. Don’t be surprised if this one becomes a movie.
Bottom line: Edwin’s Reflection is 2016’s most absorbing thriller yet. The novel is thought provoking and ingeniously contrived — without a doubt an instant classic! Click below to preview or buy.