Excerpt from Blind Spots by Thomas Mullen, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Blind Spots

A Novel

by Thomas Mullen

Blind Spots by Thomas Mullen X
Blind Spots by Thomas Mullen
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  • Published:
    Apr 2023, 320 pages


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Book Reviewed by:
Erin Lyndal Martin
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About this Book

Print Excerpt


Owens still remembers what it was like to trust. Trust his eyes, his friends, his employer. Trust his own mind, the signals firing inside his brain, the response of his body to the world around him.

Trust is something you don't think about. When it exists, it's invisible.

Like gravity. When something you let go of falls to the ground, you might be annoyed but never surprised, because that's just how it works.

Until it stops working, and everything's floating in the air, and nothing makes sense.

And for the rest of your life—even if things get fixed later, even if the earth regains its gravitational pull and the world returns to "normal"—you will never again feel as certain as you once did, no matter how many things you see fall.

* * *

Owens sits in his squad car and he trusts what he sees. Because that's how it's supposed to work.

Beside him, Peterson only half stifles a belch. Salami breath, fragrant and thick.

In the back seat, Khouri too plays her role by shaking her head in disgust. Owens can't see behind himself, but he can feel her shaking her head; that's how well he knows her. She says, "Thanks, Jimmy."

"At least you can't smell it back there," Owens says.

"Oh, but I can."

They're parked in the River District, the deceptively picturesque name of this shithole. A river does indeed snake through here, somewhere. Not that anyone strolls along its banks or kayaks it or God forbid fishes out of it. Empty warehouses decay around them. Once upon a time this neighborhood was high on some developers' lists, inspiring fever dreams of gentrification and easy money from postindustrial urban redevelopment, but The Blinding put an end to such plans.

The few nightclubs in the area trade on their proximity to crime and danger. Adventurous young professionals come out to dance and party and get high, catch rides to their safer communities to fuck and cuddle and sleep. If something goes wrong for them here, they'll call for people like Owens to help out.

Years ago pranksters or artists or some combination had thrown paint in wild colors over many of the derelict buildings. Not so much graffiti as orgasms of color. Swatches of yellow here, orange there, violet. Formerly quiet, gray and brown surfaces now proclaiming themselves in loud hues. Owens isn't sure if it had been during the early stages of The Blinding, when everyone liked vibrant colors because that was about all people could see, or the early stages of the vidders, when people were so relieved to be able to "see" again that they threw colors everywhere. Clothing during those days was wild, neon or shiny and reflective, everyone reveling once again in the once-lost pleasures of sight.

Well, almost everyone.

Owens watches the street, looking for anything unusual. He sees the normal line of clubgoers waiting to get into Slade's, the bouncers checking IDs. Down the street, a pop-up ad on his display informs him that a run-down garage called Cranky Joe's is now offering specials on lithium and solar batteries. Another pop-up at sky level notes a temperature of 56 with a 5 mph southwesterly wind and a 60 percent chance of rain after midnight.

And the time, of course, in the info bar that always lingers at the lowest point of his field of vision, tells him it's 11:15 P.M. The fact that it is night is meaningless, visually, as Owens, like everyone else, sees equally well in darkness. A whole planet of vampire bats.

Except he misses sunlight. Glare. Even misses squinting.

Finally his phone buzzes in his pocket. He holds it to his ear. Dispatch gives the green light.

He kills the call and tells them, "Warrant went through. We're on for X-ray."

He adjusts a dial on his vidder, the small, 1-inch-diameter metal disc implanted on his right temple. On nearly everyone's right temple. The vidder relays radar, GPS, and every variety of visual data to his occipital lobe's visual cortex, compensating for his permanently blinded eyes.

Excerpted from Blind Spots by Thomas Mullen. Copyright © 2023 by Thomas Mullen. Excerpted by permission of Minotaur Books. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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