Still Reading, Improbable as That May Seem

Though my recent schedule has kept me from posting here as often as I’d like, I am still managing to find the odd moment or three to read. At the moment, I’ve once again pushed aside the perennial Wodehouse collection (which I will finish–oh yes, I will) and am really enjoying an advance copy of Improbable, the first novel by Adam Fawer, which will be published on January 18, 2005.

The book is quite the page-turner and is therefore tough to put down, but given my sporatic attention to reading lately, I might not get to curl up with it as often as I’d like. Since I’m not quite halfway through the book yet, it’s far too early for me to give the review I’ll eventually get to (hopfeully sooner than later), but I want to at least mention the book as early as possible here. So, in the meantime, here’s the publisher’s synopsis:

David Caine’s life is spinning out of control.A compulsive gambler plagued by crippling epileptic seizures, he spends his nights trolling Manhattan’s underground poker clubs. Able to calculate the odds of any hand in the blink of an eye, Caine wins more than he loses, until the night he makes a costly miscalculation–and suffers his most intense seizure ever.

Desperate to regain control of his life, he agrees to test an experimental medicine. But the drug has unexpected–and unnerving–side effects: inexplicable visions of the past, present and future. Unsure whether he’s perceiving an alternate reality or suffering a psychotic break, Caine embarks on a journey that stretches beyond the possible into the world of… the IMPROBABLE.

Gradually, he discovers the extent of his astonishing ability–the power to foresee the consequences of his actions and the probability of various outcomes–as well as its limitations. But he’s not the only one who knows his secret. And now powerful forces want him for their own. With the help of a rogue female CIA assassin, Caine must fight for his survival–and his sanity.

In the tradition of The Rule of Four and The Da Vinci Code, IMPROBABLE’s brilliantly accessible prose weaves an action-packed, fast-paced plot with dynamic characters and straightforward explanations of historical and modern theories of mathematics, probability, quantum physics and psychology.

William Morrow executive editor Mauro DiPreta notes, “IMPROBABLE is A Beautiful Mind meets Kill Bill: with a savvy plotline, an intellectual risk-taker of a hero and an ultra-empowered secret agent heroine, I bet this book will appeal to readers of every persuasion.”

I must admit, when I first read this back-cover copy I was a bit concerned about what I’d find. With a build-up like this, a book could be just what I’m looking for, or it could fall flat on its face with an embarrassing and uncomfortable thud.

The ambitious promise of “an action-packed, fast-paced plot” in combination with “straightforward explanations of historical and modern theories of mathematics, probability, quantum physics and psychology” is quite a tall order for any book, but it’s all working. In fact, the smart use of probability theory to support the plot is one of the most satisfying parts of the book.

Probability that I’ll finish the book and review it before the book’s release: 99.7%

Probability that the review will be overwhelmingly positive: 82.3%
(All signs point to that result now, but with a book like this, everything hinges on the ending.)

I finally finished it. See my complete review here.