Five Minds by Guy Morpuss #BookReview #BlogTour

 

The Earth's spiralling population has finally been controlled. Lifespans are limited to eighty years, except for those who make an extreme choice: to become a commune. Five minds sharing one body, each living for four hours at a time. But with a combined lifespan of nearly 150 years.

Alex, Kate, Mike, Sierra and Ben have already spent twenty-five years together in what was once Mike's body, their frequent personality clashes leading to endless bickering, countless arguments, and getting themselves stranded on a Russian Artic freighter. Wanting to buy upgrades for their next host body, they decide to travel to a Death Park where time can be gambled like money. But things go very wrong when Kate accepts a dangerous offer, and one of them disappears.

Someone is trying to kill off members of the commune. But why? Is one of them responsible? Or is an outsider playing a deadly game? It's hard enough to catch a murderer. It's almost impossible when you might be sharing a body with them...

This brilliant murder mystery blends classic crime with speculative fiction in a stunning debut.

It's such a pleasure to be hosting the blog tour for Five Minds today. Huge thanks to Guy Morpuss, Viper Books and Anne Cater from Random Things Tours for inviting me and for my advance copy of the novel.

In Five Minds, Guy Morpuss combines two of my favourite genres, crime fiction and speculative fiction and combines them far more successfully than the five minds who have been brought together in his fabulous debut novel.
The book is set in a future where, in response to the ever-growing, resource hungry human population, measures were brought in to control the spiralling rates. However, forget anything as conventional as prescribed birth rates as here children are permitted to live normal lives until they are seventeen but then have to decide how they will live  for the rest of their time - and that includes knowing when they will die. Their choices are limited and immutable - do they opt for a longer lifespan with less freedom or fully enjoy their much time alive, with the understanding that their life-span will be significantly shorter.
Our five protagonists; Alex, Kate, Mike, Ben and Sierra have chosen the most extreme option and have become a Commune. They share the same body which means they will live for 142 years but with their daily time split between them, each has only four hours a day to live, with four hours of downtime. When the book opens, they have already lived as one for almost twenty-five years and are nearing the point where they will have to choose a new host body. Imagine a house-share where your fellow residents are chosen for you, where you have no way of ending the tenancy agreement and you are entirely reliant on your housemates for taking proper care of your shared abode, and the issues become clear. From hungover awakenings to passive-aggressive notes shared, it's not surprising that relations between the five are frequently quarrelsome and in a book which has such a singular premise immediately grounds them - their situation might be extraordinary but their responses are often reassuringly familiar.
With the novel taking place at a time when the rules have already been in place for many years, there is an initial period where everything feels a little confusing but speculative fiction in the right hands gradually explains how things work and Guy Morpuss does an exceptional job of putting the pieces of the jigsaw together, allowing readers to understand what they are seeing without knowing what the full picture is until almost the very end of the book. 
 As with any society built on division, suspicions and pejorative terms abound - communes are more commonly described as schizos while androids (andis) are widely thought to be coldly superior, no longer human but believing themselves to be better. These exterior schisms echo the interior disharmony within the commune but the five have to work together to survive, especially as they have come to a death park in order to gamble their time for upgrades for their next party. The simulated challenges in the park bring high stakes - win and gain extra years but losing equals immediate death. There's a wonderfully grim list of the death park's terms and conditions at the start of the book but it's really only as the story progresses and we've grown to know the characters that we really understand what it means for the five protagonists. 
However, potential death in a Westworld meets Ready Player One extreme amusement park isn't their only problem when one of them - apparently impossibly - disappears. This futuristic underworld brings all manner of dangers as they attempt to discover what is really happening despite not ever knowing who they can trust. Cinematic in scope and bristling with edgy tension, this nihilistic, neo-noir world is richly brought to life and is the perfect setting for a traditional locked-room mystery. 
Despite sharing a host body, each character is clearly defined and the action zips along at breakneck speed ensuring this is a 'just one more chapter' novel that I raced through in just a few hours. I loved Five Minds and am excited to recommend it; innovative and unpredictable throughout, this electrifying debut thriller effortlessly melds genres and loudly heralds that this is an author to watch. I can't wait to see what Guy Morpuss writes next! 

Five Minds is published by Viper, purchasing links can be found here but please consider supporting independent bookshops if possible.

Don't miss the rest of the blog tour, details are below.

About the Author
Guy Morpuss is a barrister and QC at a commercial law firm in London, specialising in financial and sports law. To the surprise of everyone, including himself, he suddenly found time to write a novel about five people stuck in one body, trying to kill one another. He lives in Surrey with his wife and two children.

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