With its compelling plot, vivid setting, and likable characters, I think this story would make a great film.
The year is 2030, a couple of years after “The Big One,” a major viral pandemic that had practically gutted the United States. Journalist Polly “Rags” Goldner and her lover, Flint Sten, a genius computer systems developer, have decided to leave the city, exhausted after five years of pandemic life and the resulting governmental oversight of rules meant to keep the “Luckies” safe. With no new cases of the virus or a variant reported for quite a while, the rules have relaxed; however, the city is no longer safe, as too many survivors are desperate for the basic necessities and aren’t particular about how they obtain them.
Rags had been at the frontline of reporting on the pandemic: its causes, progress, and fallout. Her newspaper and other news outlets had lapped up everything she and her colleagues had produced. She’d seen and written about things she would never forget and was on the verge of burnout, needing to get away from the epicenter to the, hopefully, calmer outskirts. The answer came as a job offer to be the editor of the Canary Courant in small-town Maryland. With private clients and his personal mission to improve machine learning, Flint was portable; he could work from anywhere.
But Canary wasn’t quite the sleepy little burg they’d anticipated. The moment they hit town, they were hit with the news that a local cheerleader, Effie Rutter, was missing and had been missing for months. The girl was gone without a trace, with zero clues for the town’s peacekeeper to go on. However, the newspaper had continued to print a repeat of what little information there was in each paper since Effie had disappeared and only dissembled about the fact that no progress had been made.
Rags’ efforts to divert coverage to new problems were met with resistance, and Merry, the paper’s only full-time employee, was unfriendly, unhelpful, and outright antagonistic toward the new boss. However, before Rags could get a firm grip on the paper and the town, another teenager is reported missing under similar circumstances as the first.
The Potrero Complex was a puzzling and compelling mystery set only a few years into the future after a viral pandemic had decimated the country’s population, economy, and way of life. The randomness and the magnitude of the virus, for which no vaccine or cure was ever found, combined with real-life current events, made for a very dark, frightening, and realistic plot and setting.
I liked and was readily engaged by the main characters, Rags and Flint. They came to town relieved for a fresh start, and as events unfold, both they and their relationship undergo some very realistic changes. Each takes different and exciting paths to deal with what’s happening in Canary.
The truth behind the mystery of the missing teenagers is revealed from Effie Rutter’s point of view, and there was a twist I never anticipated. However, questions remained unanswered at the story’s end and may set up a series featuring Rags, Flint, and the aftermath of the events in Canary. I would most assuredly stand in line for more.
With its compelling plot, vivid setting, and likable characters, I could easily visualize this story, and I think it would make a great film. I recommend THE POTRERO COMPLEX for speculative fiction, dystopian, and mystery readers.
I voluntarily reviewed this after receiving an Advanced Review Copy from the author through Partners in Crime Virtual Book Tours.