In the remote town of Frazier, Washington, a house fire burns so inexplicably white-hot that the firemen are forced to retreat. There are no known materials used in home construction or interior decoration that can explain the heat and ferocity of the blaze. Upon closer examination of the charred remains of the structure, the firemen discover a body burned so completely that only bones survived. And in the surrounding property, they find the comatose bodies of three professional assassins, clearly laid out for the authorities.
From that intriguing beginning, author C. A. Knutsen draws the reader into alternating stories in Janus Unfolding: Emergence—one placed slightly into the future, and one placed roughly in present day. Chapters flip back and forth from a crime scene investigation that initially stumps the authorities to a description of the childhood of a gifted boy named Jimmy, who exhibits unusual intellectual and physical prowess. The reader soon learns that the Jimmy, who became the adult Jim Post, a reclusive rich man about whom little is known, was killed in the house fire.
Determined to find answers, Jim Post’s business partner, Jeff Pierce, along with the help of the Frazier and Seattle police detectives as well as an Artificial Intelligence program named Martha, work to discover why anyone would murder a man who had no enemies and who had dedicated his life to making the world a better place in which to live. The mystery of exactly what happened in those woods will keep readers eagerly turning the pages.
This novel is, however, far more than a typical whodunit and crime scene investigation; it is a novel about the evolution of mankind. It is also a novel about the reactions of mankind once it learns of that evolution. Readers are drawn into the lives of each of the characters in the book, and are curiously compelled to find out what will happen to them, and whether as a species, Homo sapiens can accept the changes happening within our own societies.
The extensive chapters of the main character’s childhood would make for slow reading if they weren’t essential to eventually understanding the theme of Janus Unfolding: Emergence. However, Knutsen’s accurate portrayal of martial arts scenes will appeal to those who have an interest in the subject. Similarly, readers who enjoy a dash of science fiction in their whodunits will find the descriptions of DNA sequencing and evolution of our species fascinating.
This intriguing novel is not one that fits squarely into the mystery genre, or that follows the standard formula and plot for either a mystery or a SciFi novel. However, readers of both genres will find it a compelling and thought-provoking novel that crosses new boundaries. Highly recommended.