Chicago is a tough city – with harsh winters and sweltering summers – and M-Theory is a tough book. It’s about murder (two of them, in particular), lives that cross unexpectedly, and the way that romance can sneak up on us without warning. You’ll love that this is a procedural while still wondering if the police will get it right. And you’ll love that high school teacher Donovan James gets caught up in the investigations of the local detectives. But there are others involved, too. This is a literary mystery filled with good questions, misdirects, and other challenging side-roads. The biggest question is – will anyone finally win? Loved it!— Linda Bond
Donovan James enjoys his routine. Wake up. Catch the El. Teach high school English. Run the track. Return home on the train. Repeat. In a turbulent Chicago, this routine keeps his mind from wandering. Well, from wandering into the less-immediate world anyway. You see, Donovan can't seem to stop watching the people who frequent his morning commute, or from dissecting their lives based on these regular but limited encounters. He believes that he knows them well.
That is until one morning, he runs late, and by a series of minuscule events he runs into her, the lady in the blue coat, a passenger on his train car whom he has seldom paid attention. The moment is fleeting, but now everything has changed. The routine is disrupted. Lives are not what they seem. Soon Donovan will be caught up in the investigations of Detective Lesley Powell as well as a train full of other lives and their lies, careening toward something mysterious and sinister. Donovan knows where he got on this train, but where will he get off?
In M-theory, Tiffany Cates meticulously layers America's societal, spiritual, and moral tensions in a plot that travels through the streets and elevated tracks of Chicago, creating a riveting thriller with an endearing love story at its beating heart. As inventive and intelligent as it is entertaining, M-theory marks Tiffany Cates as an important voice in American fiction.
About the Author
Tiffany Cates spent five years navigating Chicago's transit and weather systems before moving to Oregon and earning her MFA in Creative Writing from Oregon State University. Strongly influenced by her degrees in philosophy and psychology, Cates writes around themes of personhood, the distance between self and other, and matters of free will. She is the founding editor of Townsend, a literary journal devoted to long-form fiction writers.