THE MANY LIVES OF JIMMY LEIGHTON
By Dave Thomas & Max Allan Collins
Considering his past works, writer Max Allan Collins is the
last person we’d ever associate with science fiction. But that’s exactly what
we have here in this thriller co-written with Dave Thomas. “The Many of Lives
of Jimmy Leighton” is half sci-fi and half crime mystery. Jimmy Leighton is a
young thief living in Boston’s
notorious South-End. He’s in debt to a sadistic Vietnamese gangster and decides
to rob the house of a scientist. In the man’s cellar, he discovers a quantum
machine and accidentally activates it at the same time he is shot in the back
of the head by a second intruder.
And just like that there are two Jimmy Leightons. One who
collapses from the gunshot wound and the second who simply vanishes? That
Jimmy’s consciousness is transported to another earth and into the body of a
duplicate Jimmy Leighton; one who is rich and lives in Chicago. As our dimension hopping protagonist
tries to comprehend his dilemma, his other self is rescued and taken to a Boston hospital where
surgeons save his life but leave him in a coma. Enter detectives Sam Neer and
Taylor Farr, assigned to the case. Who shot the thief in the scientist’
basement and why? From this point the book jumps, much like our hero, back and
forth between the story of the cops trying to solve the shooting and Jimmy’s
quantum identity jumps. Through the course of the story, he’ll find himself as
a boxing prize-fighter, a bank robber, an infantry soldier in Afghanistan and
even a hometown Catholic.
The balance between both narratives is really well handled; with both writers maintain a truly enjoyable rhythm throughout the story. They bring it all to a very satisfying conclusion for all the characters. This is obviously a one shot as we can’t envision any sequels. Yet we’d really like to see Neer and Farr again. Perhaps in a more traditional cop mystery in the future? Regardless, “The Many Lives of Jimmy Leighton” is a fun read one not to be missed.