Even before Michael spotted the body, the idea of creating a simulation of the scene occurred to him. At sunset, the panoramic view of Laguna Beach was awe-inspiring. He wondered if he could render it convincingly in his model, the virtual reality model which he had been developing in the back of his garage for months, until the recent acquisition of his software by a military ops company. Could beauty be taken apart without loss of emotional impact? Could its data be synthesized, somehow, into a lifelike experience? In short, could he apply his analytical skills to fool his own senses?
For now, these were purely academic questions. They occupied his mind, which helped him forget his loneliness. Michael brought his car to a stop at the corner of Cliff Drive and let it maneuver by itself into a tight parking spot.
In all probability, this evening would be uneventful, or so he thought. It was the end of April. He had nothing to do and no one to do it with. Sitting there awhile, lost in his thoughts, how was he to know that in the coming days he was going to revisit this place, starting at this particular intersection, to examine every possible angle, every conceivable point of view? The shadow of the lamppost grew longer. It prowled over to the pavement on the other side, where it lost its sharpness. The evening breeze turned overhead with a shriek, only to fall into a whoosh. Michael imagined it whispering, of all things, of murder at dusk. What a crazy idea! Where did that come from?
...Why was he following her? Even if she were in some trouble, it was not his place to save her. This girl needed to be alone, or so she seemed. He should turn back now. He really should. Instead, Michael lowered himself to sit on a bench, and only then did he notice that it was covered with a pile of rags.
Out of it came a sigh, a deep, heart-wrenching sigh. In the feeble light, Michael could somehow discern heavy eyebrows and a beard. The old man was lying on the bench. He was gazing out there, at the hazy horizon. If despair had a face, this would be it.
Startled, Michael rose into his feet. It was at that moment that the girl came into view one last time, far below him. She lifted her chin to the moonlight. He imagined how a smile might look on those lips. She kicked off her high-heels. Then, barefoot in the sand, she swung about into the shadows.
...What was that, behind the rustle—farther out—somewhere out there in the darkness? There it was again, a sound so subtle he had to guess at it. Was it a sigh? A muffled cry? Compelled to find out what it was, he hurried down past the white sands, toward the waterline. The waves clashed ashore, their crests laced with foam. And over that pulsing, over the gusts of wind, there was that sound again, only louder this time. It sent a shiver down his spine.
His shoes were soaked. Michael tossed them away, thinking he would retrieve them in a few minutes. Moving forward over the pebbles and into the shallow water, he had to grip the side of the rock, grip it tightly.
Waves were coming at him, pushing. A jagged rock formation emerged from the surface just ahead of him.
At its top was one smooth curve. A hip. Dragged in by a wave, he found himself within an arm’s reach from her. She lay there flat on her back, legs slightly separated. The head was bobbing in the water, half submerged. Greenish seaweed streamed down the dress, swerved into her cleavage, and washed down into her braid. At the tip of it, a brilliant drop of blood was beginning to form...
By Uvi Poznansky
Poznansky grabbed this reader with two issues... There apparently was a murder and that the individual who saw the body was someone working on virtual reality, developing a new model...I have always been fascinated with futuristic advancements, and the idea of virtual reality is so intriguing...
While Michael was contemplating whether or not he could create Laguna Beach within a virtual reality setting, what actually came about was quite different. He had watched an attractive girl run by...and started following her. He didn't know why but before he could catch up with her, she was dead... But he recognized her--her name was Lace.
But he didn't stay or call the police... He struggled with his options, going over whether or not the killer might be watching him right now...or whether he had seen the killer. She was already dead--he had tried to save her. But it was too late... By the next morning he tried to convince himself that he had to forget the whole thing... But the secretary threw the newspaper onto his desk, with the headlines up for him to catch, while she told Michael that their boss wanted to
see him right away.
(audible scene between Michael and Ash)
Michael was concerned about meeting--this company had been taken over. And Ashley, who was loved by Michael, was not there to meet... She had been personally assaulted but had not shared it with anyone at work. This time, he knew, the boss was going to take advantage of her being absent...and fired her. But it was more than that...they had both been happy and productive in virtual reality simulation, but that had been for games and similar uses...now the company would be using it to serve politics--war.
But seeing an envelop there addressed to Lace immediately caught his attention! He quietly grabbed it and went on...
Ash was also not surprised she was fired...but she and Michael both agreed that they could go back to working in his garage, if necessary... But when Ash learned about what had happened to Michael, she also became involved in working to solve the crime... Wow, a cozy mystery where unprofessional people work to solve a crime! But with Virtual Reality--A Techno Thriller! Now, that is what I call very cool and extremely exciting to be a part of...
Michael started by developing the area around the crime scene...And entered into place all of the things, people, and action he could remember. Among what he remembered was that he had taken off his shoes when he went into the water to check the body! Soon Michael was back onsite--his shoes could easily have been found by the police...
Instead, they had been found by a homeless person...who was now wearing them and threatened Michael he was not giving them up! The police interceded. But it was easy to realize that Michael had become a person of interest who was now known. He knew he had to work fast and see if he could determine who had actually killed Lace...
As a reader, we actively become involved in building that virtual reality scene, and if we had paid attention as we read, we placed those things into the virtual space...don't panic, I missed quite a few but was reminded as, for instance, two divers who had come out of the water and passed Lace, was entered into the scene... As a fan of all things CSI, I just had to highlight what could now be done on scene to replace the tedious activities of crime scene investigators...
Poznansky builds a steady set of clues, while building a concurrent virtual scene. Each individual, including the villain, is slowly entered into the scene, based upon Michael's research...and the explosive letter he had taken earlier...
Still I was not prepared for whodunit. Who knew that pearls would provide a major clue...but also lead to danger for both Michael and Ash... This is a totally satisfying venture into the use of virtual reality within crime scene investigation. It is new, refreshing, and unique in mystery or police procedure novels and I'm certainly happy to have gained the experience from a writer of multiple genres who keeps surprising me with the scope and diversity of her books. Do search my blog under her name for the books I've been fortunate to read and review... This was the first of this genre for me; it was tense, detail-oriented and indeed gave a whole new perspective to crime solving in books.
“I paint with my pen,” she says, “and write with my paintbrush.” She received a Fellowship grant and a Teaching Assistantship from the Architecture department at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, where she earned her M.A. in Architecture. Then, taking a sharp turn in her education, she earned her M.S. degree in Computer Science from the University of Michigan.
Uvi writes across a variety of genres: Coma Confidential and Virtually lace (suspense); Apart From Love and Apart from War (family saga); The White Piano (literary fiction), My Own Voice (women's fiction), The Music of Us (romance), Dancing with Air (romantic suspense), Marriage before Death (thriller), Rise to Power, A Peek at Bathsheba, and The Edge of Revolt (historical fiction with a modern twist), A Favorite Son (biblical fiction), Home (poetry), Twisted (horror), and Now I Am Paper and Jess and Wiggle (children’s books.)