Dystopian novel set in SOUTH EAST FRANCE
Police procedural with added AI set in WARWICKSHIRE
28th December 2023
In The Blink Of An Eye by Jo Callaghan, police procedural with added AI set in Warwickshire.
You may well have seen this novel heavily featured on Social Media over these past few months.
DCS Kat Frank is the main character in this story, but she is at times eclipsed by AIDE Lock, an AI apparition – a hologram, even – that is part of a research project which her boss has initiated.
She is tasked with choosing an old case that hasn’t been resolved, with a view to combining the objectivity and fast manoeuvring of the AI “it” – and the “it” can at times feel all too real. It comes armed with an awareness of the details of the case, it can analyse and extrapolate but lacks a level of experience and subjectivity that the human mind brings.
Kat in fact chooses two cases featuring two young men, who simply disappeared a few months ago. The investigations have wound down and there is no indication whether they have gone missing or taken their own lives, perhaps – they have gone off grid, but whether it is voluntarily or with coercion, it has not been possible to determine; perhaps there is something even more sinister going on. As the team starts to trawl through the data, it becomes clear in her mind that there is a pernicious link between the cases, a connection that has never been examined before. With fresh eyes, and in particular the analysis that AI brings to the work, they do start to make headway.
AI is in the news on a regular basis, often flagging the negatives but as the author reminds the reader, there are positive elements that are certainly brought to the investigative process. She paints the hologram as near human, with incredible analytic computing competencies, but it, of course, falls at the real human hurdle. Kat brings intuition and empathy to her job, whilst assessing the evidence, but the AI computer purely analyses, often in record quick time and can look at the problems from many angles. It can also respond incredibly inappropriately when dealing with people, unaware of sensibilities, blundering in like a bull in a china shop. The whole premise of the story makes for an interesting juxtaposition – humans and AI. Perhaps this kind of thing is already happening and whether it is or not, we all need to get a feel for where this technology is going. This story makes AI feel a little more accessible, integrated within a pacy and engaging storyline.
Setting isn’t particularly strong in this novel.
Tina for the TripFiction Team
Join team TripFiction on Social Media:
Twitter (@TripFiction), Facebook (@TripFiction.Literarywanderlust), YouTube (TripFiction #Literarywanderlust), Instagram (@TripFiction) and Pinterest (@TripFiction) and BlueSky(tripfiction.bsky.social)