The Liminal People, by Ayize Jama-Everett

10900231All his life, Taggert has been testing himself. He throws himself into dangerous situations to see how much damage he can take. He takes on impossible cases to see how far his healing abilities stretch. Then, he became disillusioned and wander the wilderness of Africa until a very scary man gave him a job in exchange for knowledge. What Taggert didn’t realize was that it would cost him his soul. Ayize Jama-Everett shows us what it takes to return Taggert to life in The Liminal People

When we meet him, Taggert is solidly in the employ of Nordeen Maximus. Nordeen runs drugs in order to fund his real business: finding people like Taggert, who have powers. Taggert can heal and manipulate the body down to the chemicals in the brain and the melanin in skin and acids in the stomach. He also learned to use his abilities to hurt people at Nordeen’s command. After yet another job, Taggert gets a call from a woman he never expected to hear from again. More than a decade before, Yasmine told Taggert he was a freak and left him. Now she needs him to help find her missing daughter, Tamara. With permission from Nordeen, Taggert returns to London and find that this is not just a case of a pissed off runaway teenager or a kidnapping gone wrong. Tamara has powers, too, and someone wants her to join their gang. They won’t take no for an answer.

Taggert answers the call because, above all, he wants to be the kind of man who keeps his word—no matter how long it’s been. He’s reluctant, but he’ll do the job. It doesn’t take him long to figure out that he’s dealing with a bunch of amateurs. They make him angry after one of the gang uses her abilities to sic what seems like every rat and dog in an entire London neighborhood after him. Then they make him incandescently angry when they kill the only woman Taggert ever loved.

All this—plus a good chunk of Taggert’s backstory—unfolds in just the first third of The Liminal People. Jama-Everett just keeps building layers into the story and throwing complications at his protagonist so that Taggert is not just trying to save Tamara from the powered denizens of London, he’s also questioning just what his boss is really up to. He also starts questioning whether he is meant for more than just being Nordeen’s enforcer.

I can’t describe how much I enjoyed reading The Liminal People without completely descending into hyperbole. This book has so many of the things I love in thrillers. It’s got a great, conflicted, thoughtful protagonist. The plot has so many delicious layers to peel back as it races along. And then there are the powers. Jama-Everett uses a few of the usual extrasensory powers, but throws in some intriguing new ones and shows you what the implications might be. Taggert, for example, can heal anything, but he can also turn that power inside out and use it to torture people with their own bodies. My only regret is that there isn’t a sequel that I can immediately start reading.

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