Shift by Kring and PeckI have been told that Crown Publishing went all out at Comic-Con in order to promote the new novel Shift, co-authored by Heroes producer Tim Kring and accomplished novelist Dale Peck, complete with a team of faux-Jackie Kennedys, text-message scavenger hunts, and a range of other activities. But, somehow I missed all that. It's probably a good thing, too. When I got to the Crown booth, it was really nice to see something different: an actual book publisher giving away advance reading copies -- something you don't typically see at the Con. And, with a cover bearing the provocative message "Did LSD kill JFK?," it would have been impossible to overlook this interesting title, due out in mid-August.

Shift tells the story of Melchior, the hardened cold-warrior, veteran of countless secret missions, raised since childhood by The Wiz to become the perfect espionage machine. Between the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Kennedy assassination, he sets in motion a series of events meant to change the world, and finally give him his freedom, if such a thing is possible.

Set in a just-slightly-different version of 1963 America, Shift is part revisionist history, part conspiracy theory, and part drug-induced hallucination. From cover to cover, it reads like Philip Marlowe as told by William S. Burroughs, filled with tough-as-nails detective action, Timothy Learian consciousness expansion, international spycraft, and a one-man road trip that borrows as much from Revelations as it does from Huck Finn.

Shift is filled to overflowing with interesting characters: from the dim-but-learning Agent BC and his Fletch-esque antics, to the lovely and talented Naz, and back to Chandler, whose intense LSD experiences may one day change the world forever.

This new novel is a fun and exciting journey that belongs in a genre of its own. Exciting, entertaining storytelling that questions reality as well as history, with high-speed, page-turning pacing, and sharp dialogue. Highly recommended for fans of noir, action comics, espionage, and crime thrillers. Drug-addled new-age paranoiacs will also enjoy it.