“This Eden is a delight, a rollicking ride that never lets up, with a surprising — and emotionally rich — ending.” — Quill & Quire (Starred Review)
Michael Atarian is out of his depth. The closest he ever came to working in tech was when he rode a delivery bike for a food app in Vancouver. Yet when his coder girlfriend dies, he is inexplicably headhunted by a sinister tech mogul and transplanted to Silicon Valley. There, a reluctant spy named Aoife lures him into the hands of an enigmatic war-gamer who tricks them both into joining his quest to save the world.
Hunted by government agents and corporate goons, and manipulated at every turn, Aoife and Michael find themselves in an intercontinental chase that takes them from California to New York, from the forests of Uganda to Jerusalem, Gaza, Alexandria, and Paris, and to a final showdown with the truth in Dublin.
Propulsive and richly entertaining, This Eden updates the classic spy novel for a world under mortal threat from cyber-warfare, feral money, runaway technology, and a cynical onslaught on truth itself.
About the author
Ed O’Loughlin is an Irish Canadian author and journalist. His first novel, Not Untrue and Not Unkind, was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2009 and shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award. His second novel, Toploader, was published in 2011. House of Anansi published his third novel, Minds of Winter, in spring of 2017, which was long-listed for the Sir Walter Scott Prize for historical fiction.
As a journalist, Ed reported from Africa for several papers, including the Irish Times. He was the Middle East correspondent for the Sydney Morning Herald and the Age of Melbourne. Ed was born in Toronto and raised in Ireland. He now lives in Dublin with his wife and two children.
Excerpt: This Eden (by (author) Ed O’Loughlin)
From the Prologue: Wonderland
The Lions Gate suspension bridge joins central Vancouver to the North Shore and the mountains beyond. It’s a little over one mile long. Two hundred feet beneath it are the First Narrows, where the Burrard Inlet meets English Bay. The design is similar to that of the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, and it is likewise considered to be beautiful.
In good weather, the traffic cameras on the north end of the bridge, pointing south, would show the whole sweep of its three-lane highway, as well as the pedestrian and cycle paths attached either side of it. But it was raining on the night in question, as you’d expect in Vancouver. In the CCTV footage which the cops showed to Michael, the raindrops are shooting stars, streaking white across the lenses of the cameras, burning up in the lights from the bridge. The yellow bulbs along the parapet, and the blue globes on the cables, grow dimmer with distance, then fade from view a hundred yards from the shore, swallowed by the fog and rain that are rolling into Burrard Inlet. The port and the city are lost in this fog. Two hundred feet under the bridge, the tide would, at the time in question, have been ebbing through the First Narrows at almost four knots.
The southern end of Lions Gate Bridge is located in the heights of Stanley Park, a patch of coastal rainforest preserved from the encroaching city. Here, two large stone lions guard the entrance to the bridge, where the approach road curves north through the fir trees and cedars. At 3.11 a.m., a traffic camera at this end of the bridge sees a figure in a red hooded jacket emerging from a path in the forest, pushing a bicycle.
A car passes, and, when it has gone, the figure crosses the road to access the path on the seaward side of the bridge. As the figure passes the camera, the wind blows back its hood. The image is clear enough, despite the poor light and low resolution. At 3.13 a.m., Lydia Alice Field walked on to the Lions Gate Bridge and vanished in the rain and fog. Michael, watching the footage with the two constables, was able to confirm her identity.
She did not reappear to any of the other cameras which cover both ends of the bridge.
At 5.19 a.m., a police dispatcher received a call from a jogger who had found an unlocked bicycle propped against the parapet, three hundred metres out from Stanley Park. Wanting to be helpful, the jogger added that he had looked over the parapet into the Narrows, two hundred feet below, but could see no sign of anyone in the water. By then she was miles away. Strait of Georgia, Salish Sea.
There were interviews, formalities. When they were done, the police thanked Michael for his cooperation and told him they were sorry. They dropped him back to the empty house as the sun was going down. The constables waited at the kerb to make sure he was OK. They noted that he stood for some time on the porch, staring at the door, before he opened it and went inside.
Though This Eden is set against a backdrop of hacktivism, cryptocurrency, and the spectre of surveillance and Big Tech, you don’t necessarily have to understand the nuances of these worlds to appreciate the rich world Irish-Canadian author Ed O’Loughlin has built … This is a book that delights in the thrill of the chase and a love of liminal spaces … The moments of explosive movement and evasion are when This Eden is at its best.
Globe and Mail
This Eden is a delight, a rollicking ride that never lets up, with a surprising – and emotionally rich – ending … A novel as relentless in its pursuit of deeper understanding as it is of fast thrills.
Quill & Quire, STARRED REVIEW