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One novel, 10 authors – ‘Indigo’

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Multiple writers bring supernatural mystery to life.

One tends to think of writers as solitary artists, constructing their stories in their imaginations and then laying them down on the page. Novels are the product of a singular vision.

Except when they aren’t.

The new book “Indigo” (St. Martin’s Press, $27.99) isn’t the product of just one writer. Nor of two or three. All told, there are 10 listed authors here – Kelly Armstrong, Christopher Golden, Charlaine Harris, Tim Lebbon, Jonathan Maberry, Seanan McGuire, James A. Moore, Mark Morris, Cherie Priest and Kat Richardson all had a hand in bringing this story to life.

And it’s a pretty good story at that.

Nora Hesper is an investigative reporter – one of the best in the city – on the trail of one of the biggest stories of her career. She’s on the verge of uncovering the truth behind a series of child abductions and murders.

But she is also Indigo, a superpowered vigilante who uses her command of the shadows to track down and punish evildoers – specifically, the members of a cult devoted to calling forth and controlling the embodiment of Death itself.

Striking the balance between her two lives isn’t easy; no one – not even her on-again off-again beau Sam or her upstairs neighbor and best friend Shelby – knows the truth about Nora and Indigo.

But when the Cult of Phobos starts to grow active again, Nora/Indigo starts to realize that there are a whole lot of things about her own story that just don’t add up. When Nora was 19, her parents died in a tragic accident; she spent the insurance money traveling to Tibet, which is where she developed and studied her shadowy abilities. But why does she have a nagging feeling that something about that origin story is suspicious?

As she pulls at the threads of memory, the holes Nora’s personal narrative fabric grow larger, leaving her questioning whether anything she once believed about herself is in fact the truth. And all the while, the Cult of Phobos grows stronger and the lives of many innocent children are at risk.

Nora must come to terms with her alter ego; the longtime compartmentalization separating her and Indigo has to end if there’s any chance to defeat the many powerful enemies that seek to destroy not just her, but the entire world.

As a literary endeavor, “Indigo” is fairly successful. One would think that having 10 authors would negatively impact the overall stylistic flow of the piece, but aside from occasional choppiness, it all seems to coalesce quite nicely. Massively collaborative efforts like this are tricky; they can come off as wildly uneven and/or gimmicky. But when they work, they’re great fun to experience – and “Indigo” works.

The most familiar names of the bunch are probably Harris and Golden, but ultimately, it doesn’t really matter. In truth, the best compliment I can give a book like this is the fact that I never found myself wondering who wrote what while I was reading in the moment. I was engrossed in the story for its own sake. The clean lines, smart characterizations and sharp pacing of the narrative made sure of that. Instead, it was only afterward when my curiosity about the nuts and bolts of the thing bubbled to the surface.

Now, it’s not smooth sailing the whole way. Every once in a while, a clunky stretch presents itself, a spot where maybe the connective tissue of the collaboration shows through. But those bits where the seams show are both rare and brief; it’s never long before the story pulls you in again.

“Indigo” makes for an engaging read, an entertaining supernatural mystery. It’s breezy while still offering the odd moment of visceral intensity; you’ll speed through it in the best possible way. The propulsive tale never stops moving, and even in the odd moment it missteps, it continues ever forward. An excellent summer read. 

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