The Lives Of Oth­ers

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Re­lease Date: OUT NOW! 432 pages | Hard­back/ ebook Au­thor: Claire North Pub­lisher: Or­bit

Ke­pler doesn’t ex­ist in cor­po­real form. Or rather, Ke­pler ex­ists in mul­ti­ple cor­po­real forms. That’s be­cause it ( not he or she, you note) is es­sen­tially a soul that be­came de­tached from its own body at the mo­ment of death and has sub­se­quently jumped from hu­man body to hu­man body.

As thieves go, Ke­pler is gen­tle. Although the per­son­al­i­ties of those it in­hab­its are tem­po­rar­ily snuffed out by its pres­ence, Ke­pler cares for the bod­ies of its hosts – even loves them in its way. But not ev­ery­one re­gards Ke­pler as be­nign. When one of its hosts, Josephine Ce­bula, is as­sas­si­nated, Ke­pler re­alises its own ex­is­tence might too be snuffed out…

What fol­lows is a thriller that pulls off the con­sid­er­able trick of fol­low­ing up North’s ac­claimed rein­car­na­tion- as- Ground­hog Day novel, The First Fif­teen Lives Of Harry Au­gust, with­out ever seem­ing tricksy. In­stead, as we fol­low Ke­pler’s odyssey in a novel writ­ten rather in the breath­less style of an air­port thriller, North ratch­ets up the ten­sion and ac­tion.

Just as im­por­tantly, she makes us care about Ke­pler as she ex­plores the con­se­quences of its ac­tions. Plus, be­yond the high- con­cept premise, there are other tidy ideas. Ke­pler, for in­stance, some­times works as an “es­tate agent” who sources bod­ies for oth­ers of its kind.

The plot oc­ca­sion­ally slows but, re­ally, how can you not love a novel that con­tains the sen­tence, “I went for a walk in some­one dis­creet”? Jonathan Wright Claire North ( aka Catherine Webb/ Kate Grif­fin) is learn­ing Man­darin. This means she watches a lot of kung fu movies.

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