What an in-depth review from B. Roscoe for my virtual reality thriller , Virtually Lace. I truly appreciate the attention to detail.Reviewed in the United States on November 22, 2020
As Michael Waits For Ash To Heal, He Finds Himself A Suspect In Yet Another Brutal Attack.
This is book one in a series of interconnected stories by different authors, each delving into the exciting world of virtual reality and high-tech crime solving, highlighting fascinating tools and possibilities within the field in the context of a mystery.
Fans of the author are in for a real treat! Ash’s story is told in the three part Ash Suspense Thrillers with a Dash of Romance series. Here Michael, her boyfriend, gets to tell his own story. It takes place months after the incident that set off the Ash Suspense series.
Michael Morse, high school dropout, is a brilliant software developer. He chose not to pursue hacking, despite his talent. With the help of his girlfriend, he had been working on a startup in his garage until recently. His girlfriend Ash, who is working on her master’s degree at the University of California Irvine, assisted with developing a Virtual Reality model as an industrial designer. They are technically partners. He recently sold the software to a military ops company and remains contractually bound to working with the company to further develop the program. Ash should be as well, but that requires some explanation.
He has not seen her since the incident – the brutal rape that left her hospitalized and in a coma. He had visited her in the hospital, but her mother’s looks and suspicion made him terribly uncomfortable. Michael had developed an aversion to police as a result of the days of questioning he endured after the tragic event occurred. He had found Ash in a pool of blood hanging onto life, and he was the only real suspect. Her mother had never liked him, but with Ash in a coma and him as a suspect, she never let him live it down. The case still has not been solved. Ash has since left the hospital but refuses to answer his calls and texts. He had promised to give her time and wait for her, but her involvement in the project going forward is questionable. Michael feels her absence sorely, as his most inspired work comes when they are together, feeding off of one another’s energy.
The story opens at the end of April on a breezy evening at Laguna Beach. Lonely, Michael heads out to take a walk when at 8:03pm he notices a teenage girl that somehow looks familiar, and in a small way reminds him of Ash. Perhaps it was the distress that he sensed, but his instincts kick in. Something feels wrong, yet he knows he is crazy in his presumption. He follows her and the trail to the beach as he tries to reason with himself.
Along the way he loses sight of the girl, but he crosses paths with a number of others that leave an imprint on his mind. There is a homeless man on a bench. The two divers. The little girl selling sea shells. The three teens rough housing on the sand. And the body that he happens to stumble upon on some rocks. Of course Michael should call the police – but after his recent past he knows that is the last thing he wants to do. He will automatically become suspect number one by doing the right thing, so Michael follows a different path.
Michael goes to his new office and sets about constructing a virtual reality model of the crime scene in the hopes of finding the murderer before the police try to pin it on him. In the process he begins to connect some dots. One involves the name of the victim: Lace.
In the meantime he must deal with company politics. The system will now be used in politics and war instead of gaming. The president of the company, Mr. Armstrong, understands little about technology. Moreover, he has a bad temper and his lack of experience seems to get in the way. Mr. Armstrong assigns his nephew to assist Michael, and it happens to be someone that Michael vaguely knows. Manny Bullock, or Bull, is an artist without the requisite tech skills for the job, but Michael has no choice but work with the odd man.
Michael and Ash have an interesting relationship, and it is nice to see it from Michael’ point of view. Ash is a bit kooky. She is brilliant and independent, and very damaged from her brutal rape and its after effects (read her series for more). Michael is the most patient boyfriend she could ask for. He never pressures her for more when she asks for space to heal. Not to say he is perfect – he gets lost in his virtual reality creations and isn’t the best at keeping track of time. He is a genius, and together they make a great creative pair. Here his guilt for not preventing Ash’s attack drives him to do what he can to help a different victim, but Ash’s reasons for getting involved are different. She grows bold rather than cowering, and wants to see justice done, even if it puts herself at risk. She, too, gets a little lost in her own world at times. They go to battle solving crime with their intellect and the VR world they created. In the end there is a little healing as they find their way back together.
Dr. Michael Foreman, an Assistant Professor of Neurosurgery and Radiology, enters the picture, hinting at book two of the series. It appears the two men, experts in their own fields, might be able to help one another.
Two issues merit mention. First, in the Ash Suspense Thrillers series Michael was a college dropout, not a high school dropout. Additionally, Michael is a little slow to make some obvious connections. Perhaps this just highlights his humanity – even the most brilliant of us cannot see what is right in front of our noses. It is also in all likelihood a product of his aversion to the police. He postpones and delays, exposing himself and others to danger, because he must be absolutely certain before coming forward.
Michael and Ash’s story will thrill fans of the Ash Suspense Thrillers with a Dash of Romance series. As Michael waits for Ash to heal, he finds himself a suspect in yet another brutal attack. The story is very well-written and plot-driven. The great attention given to detail makes for a lush and vivid tale that comes to life. The world of virtual reality that Michael creates is fascinating to read about. The characters are nicely developed. The story is written in third person in Michael’s POV. I rate this book 4.5 stars.