Peter Lukes – Perchance to Dream

Manuel Corr is the best of the best in the Sub-Net unit of the Boston Police, where he invades the dreams of criminals to unearth potential crimes. He’s fearless where his work is concerned, until one night when the dream world collapses around him. Now trapped in a dreamscape he can no longer direct, Manuel must try to fight his way back to reality.

But the road back is more dangerous than he realized. The tables have been turned; criminals are running the Sub-Net, and the world of dreams he’d once patrolled is a nightmare he cannot escape from.

Unless he can unlock the conspiracy behind who’s manipulating the Sub-Net, Manuel may be trapped forever. The criminal world is trying to recruit him for their side, and refusal means death. Can Manuel claw his way back to the reality he remembers? Or will the dream world become his new reality?

The blurb for Perchance to Dream intrigued me very much. Police officers invading dreams to solve crimes? What’s not to love? Well, there was a lot to love about this slim novel, but I also have my gripes with it. At 165 pages, it was a very quick read and I read it in the course of a single morning. However, this short length is also its downfall, as there were lots of cool concepts in the novel, but some of them were given short shrift so we could move on to the next one.

To start with we’ve barely seen Manuel in action as a member of the Sub-Net unit, before things go haywire. As such it was hard to get a feel for how his dream-travelling usually works and how it is used to solve crimes. I would have liked to see him do a normal shift to get more of a grounding in what exactly Sub-Net is. Similarly, there is hardly any, if any at all, discussion about the ethics of this dream-invading by the police. If they can do this to anyone they want to, what is to keep them from abusing their ‘powers’? Of course it turns out the answer is nothing, otherwise the criminals wouldn’t have access, but it isn’t even discussed.

We jump around a lot following Manuel to the different subs he visits, but once we are made aware that these subs are inhabited by real entities, we aren’t really shown more of who they are; I would have liked to have learned more about the matriarchal society Manuel and his mentor are captured by and I’d definitely appreciated more insight into the Purveyors, are mysterious group of entities that suddenly pops up in the middle of the book and which thoroughly confused me at first.

Despite the problems with its brevity and pacing, there is a lot to love about Perchance to Dream, specifically its cast of characters. Lukes manages to create a cast of strong individuals whom it’s easy to love or hate – whichever is called for in each case – especially Manuel, his colleague Margarite and his mentor Lieutenant Jackson. I was surprised at how attached I became to the three of them in such a short space of time. I really liked the fact that Margarite isn’t afraid to take risks to do what she thinks is right; she’s definitely not a fading hothouse flower. But again, the book’s brevity counted against it as I would have liked to have learned a little more back story for all of them and for one of our main villains, Azrael.

Perchance to Dream left me a little disappointed. There was so much potential to its ideas and its characterisations were really good, but I just wanted more from it, more time to develop these ideas and the setting, more time to breathe. While the ending was satisfying and left a good set up for a sequel, I wish we hadn’t rushed to that ending as fast. That being said, I did really enjoy the time I spent with Manuel and the pages of Perchance to Dream, as the story is interesting and Peter Lukes’ writing style is very smooth and a pleasure to read.

This book was provided for review by the author.