The Memory Chamber
PublisherQuercus
Date Published20 September 2018
 
 
ISBN-101786485370
ISBN-13978-1786485373
Formatpaperback
Pages400
Price£ 8.99

The Memory Chamber

by Holly Cave

In the not-too-distant future architects can design a heaven specifically for you but there are regulations and controls. Isobel is not supposed to fall in love with her client, and the implications when his wife is murdered are destructive.


Review

Isobel is a Heaven Architect. She designs a version of an after life for dying clients, which makes use of the memories held deep within the brain. She extracts the desired memories and orchestrates a timeless collage of recollections: sight, sound, smell, hearing and touch. These are linked to a few mirror neurons, extracted from the brain of the client soon after their death, and these enable the consciousness of the dead person to sustain some life and experience.

Isobel is an exceptionally talented Heaven Architect. She follows the rules and regulations meticulously until she meets Jarek, who is slowly dying from a brain tumour. Having an affair is bad enough in itself, but when Jarek’s wife is found murdered then the authorities pressurise Isobel into entering her clients’ Heaven to try to solve this crime, a pioneering procedure that is fraught with difficulties.

Isobel becomes embroiled in a spiralling sequence of events that have life-changing implications for her and for all those who know or are associated with her. She is pursued by the calm and enigmatic Daniel, a law enforcement officer whose motives are unclear. It is not clear whether he supports Isobel, is infatuated with her or is merely determined to solve a crime at all costs.

When I started to read The Memory Chamber I felt that it was not what I expected. It felt like a light romance story. I am glad that I stuck with it, though. The concept of the created Heavens is explored in many ways, scientifically, economically and ethically and this forms the backbone to the story and the way the characters are affected. As the book progresses the main protagonists become well fleshed out, with layers of emotions and secrets that gradually become apparent. 

The plotting goes from strength to strength and I had to persuade myself not to turn to the last pages to check who would live and who would die, who would be blamed and who would be innocent. I didn’t cheat and the ending lived up to my high expectations.

Reviewed 13 October 2018 by John Barnbrook