By Tamara M Bailey
Publisher/Year: Improbable Press 2022
Life will find a way.
Olivia Alexander (nee Sharp) thinks her biggest problem is discovering her husband’s affair.
Then a stranger accosts her on the street warning, “Don’t sign anything.” When Olivia reluctantly follows his advice, everything starts to fall apart. Suddenly assassins, safe houses, and ruthless global corporations are her new reality, and she’s running for her life.
In a virtual world unknown to Olivia, Livvie Sharp’s partner goes missing, someone tries to kidnap her little girl, and now she too is on the run as someone hunts her. Someone who knows everything about her. Someone using her loved ones as weapons to bring her down.
Then Livvie meets the other Olivia, in Tamara M Bailey’s techno thriller, and near future novel The Other Olivia.
Reviewer: Narrelle Harris
The Other Olivia is a cracking good sci-fi thriller, set partly in Perth. The other part is set in a virtual world which has been created to help save Planet Earth.
The drama begins when Olivia Alexander is approached by a wild-haired man, warning her against signing a form. Alarmed – doubly so when someone shows up with the form in question – Olivia chooses to heed the warning.
With her personal life already falling apart, this decision sends her spinning into mayhem. Killers are on her trail. She falls in with people who harbour deadly secrets. At the same time, Livvie Sharp in the shadow world is fighting to save her family from those intent on kidnapping her daughter.
Bailey brings a light touch to developing/differentiating her mirrored characters and the trauma and dark secrets they carry. The story moves along at a fabulous pace, with just enough pauses to catch a breath and learn a little more about Olivia, Liv, and the people who surround and link them before the next push into their fight against a dangerous enemy.
She also creates a perfect balance in the plot tension between the competing motivations of the organisation behind the virtual world, and the points where Olivia/Livvie’s shared history splits and why.
The energy of the denouement is fantastic. The final chapters may seem to jump suddenly, but I loved how Bailey did not belabour resolutions that can clearly be extrapolated from the situations, especially when detailing the obvious would have dragged the pace after so much excellent timing throughout. It’s a delightful and satisfying conclusion, too, which doesn’t go for clumsy absolutes.
The Other Olivia is an exciting read, with lots of energy, appealing characters, and an interesting ethical challenge behind the dangers that threaten not only the characters but the worlds they inhabit.