Perfectly InvisiblePerfectly Invisible
by Michael A. Stackpole
Stormwolf Press, 2011

A Review by
Colleen R. Cahill
November, 2014

As a person with an avid interest in history you would think that I would read a lot of alternate history. The truth is I often find alternate history depressing, so those books fall further down on my reading list. In the case of Michael A. Stakepole’s Perfectly Invisible, from Stormwolf Press, I am glad I gave it a try. The combination of a radically different United States and a locked room murder mystery was so compelling, I stayed up late to finish the book.

The year is 2011 and in this world there is YouTube and Wikipedia, but there is also a US government that watches its citizens a very closely. The changes from our history begin in 1993 when the World Trade Center bombing succeeds, leaving a huge scar in New York City and which is followed by the destruction of a Democratic Presidential Convention that kills President Clinton. These two events start a war on terror that leads to a much more controlling government.  In this America, Homeland Security are at the top of the police food chain, the elite who are respected, feared and despised.   HSS, popularly pronounced as hiss, are revealed to us through the newly mint agent Miracle Dunn.  Her first case puts her back in touch with her former colleagues in the New York City police force as she is called in on homicide.  Dunn questions why HSS is being called in for what seems unexceptional murder, until she looks through a bullet hole in the wall and sees a second mummified body in a secret room.

This all happens on Dunn’s first day as an agent: she has just completely six months of training, so she is still learning the ropes at HSS. After making her way to the super secure HSS offices inside an FBI building, she is introduced to Austin Brand, the “financials and stats guy”, and Thom Carrollton,  who covers the “political and societal end of things.” She has already met Agent Fyn who “reeked of the military”, making him a great man in a firefight, but is also fairly mysterious, as he is less than trusting of HSS. The team is completed by her skills as an investigator and they begin to unravel the two murders, both of which have ties to power drug companies. One interesting twist is the possibility that the second murder was orchestrated to reveal the first.

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There is plenty in this US that you might find disturbing, such as the “28th Amendment— the Patriot Amendment”. The author states he has set up a society where “big brother does more than just watch.” Stackpole also says he designed the book to be entertaining and I certainly found it so: Dunn and her fellow agents are compelling characters and the murder mysteries definitely kept me guessing.  This is the first novel in a series and I am looking forward to the next book, Perfectly Dead, in the hopefully near future.

So try a bit an alternate history mixed with mystery: I think you will find Perfectly Invisible perfectly enjoyable.