This is a wonderful, action-oriented introduction to the organization nicknamed FateNet. Our guide is a new hire who has lost jobs and been threatened for her odd knack of knowing when something is off and the inability to stay quiet about it. All too often, Susan exposes illegal activities involving her workplace, and her bosses aren’t very happy about that fact, as shown by the opening moment when she’s hiding in the bushes from the police, unsure whether she’s the victim, or supposed perpetrator, of a crime.
Then she’s offered a job specifically because of this unusual talent in an organization that, despite repeated denials, seems more mystical than corporate. They manipulate events and guide the fate of the world, so her instinct for data errors is greatly appreciated. You’d think she’d found her perfect job…until her talent has the same effect on FateNet as every other job she’s held. Susan exposes a grand conspiracy, or maybe more than one, within FateNet itself.
Everything, and I mean everything, unravels from that point on. Susan has to figure out where her loyalties lie while she’s in the midst of a crisis of Biblical proportions, but she doesn’t know any of them well enough to be confident in her judgment.
This is a mad dash without a lot of time to sit back and figure things out, or rather to become comfortable with any of the things you learn, but it’s definitely fun, and comfort in this context is highly overrated. From the moment the story begins, you’re thrust into a world that’s ours but not…or is it. Details of the background, both Susan’s and that of the organization, are filled in organically as the story unfolds, and yet some of those details are subject to interpretation or compartmentalized knowledge, making it hard for Susan to find solid ground.
Listed as science fantasy, A Beautiful Day for a Conspiracy has the feel of urban fantasy despite technology rather than magic being the guiding principle, though what FateNet undertakes is certainly well beyond what our current technology can accomplish. There are interesting people, intriguing discoveries, and a solid ending despite the clear indication of more to come. This novella reminds me a bit of the genre of secret organization films in the way the first is a crazy ride that uses the new recruit as eyes and ears to bring the viewer (or reader in this case) up to speed.
This is one of the books I read last year that fell behind a virtual table rather than getting the reviews they deserved. It says a lot that almost twelve months later, I can still see pictures in my head from scenes in the story, and it left a strong sense of exciting chaos experienced at a dead run.