Thursday, October 17, 2019

Conclusion by Peter Robertson

Conclusion offers a clever, sci-fi, imaginative take on mortality. In it, 55-year-olds can be scanned and if the scan deems them healthy, they may choose to be “welded.” Upon welding, they won’t ever become sick, nor will they age. They’ll also get a payoff from the government. The tradeoff is that after twenty years, they’ll “conclude,” that is, they’ll simply die. Colin and Ruby chose the weld when they were 55 and now at 75, Ruby has concluded. Colin, being younger than Ruby, is bereft, confused, and not sure about his remaining time. 

Justin, a seemingly aimless man in his twenties, loses one of his jobs and decides to cut his ties with his current life. Taking only some cash and a few belongings, he heads for the Minnesota Boundary Waters area where he’d camped with a church youth group as a teen. 

When Colin spies a man he knows to be dead and is attracted to Angie, a younger woman who shouldn’t be healthy, he begins speculating on the possibility that the welding process has been manipulated. When Colin and Angie are threatened, they travel to Colin’s second home in Minnesota near where Justin is camping. 

The intersection of Colin’s and Justin’s stories with one contemplating mortality and the other considering the meaning of life in the great north woods offers a suspense-filled journey in the grandeur of the Boundary Waters. The protagonists tumble toward an ending that ambushes the reader yet is surprisingly satisfying.

Summing it Up: Conclusion is a wild ride through the Boundary Waters with three characters in search of answers. It’s at its best in the depiction of the threatened wilderness that campers and paddlers adore. If ever there were a book meant for discussion in a bar with great IPAs on tap, this is it.

Note: I’ve known the author for many years and my son’s best adolescent memories are of his trips to the Boundary Waters with his church youth group. I’m grateful to Peter Robertson for capturing the camaraderie and beauty of camping in that pristine wilderness so well.

If you’re in the Chicago area, catch the novel’s launch at these two events:
Saturday, October 19 at 3 p.m. at Bookie’s Bookstore in Chicago, IL
Sunday, October 20 at 3 p.m. at Bookie’s Bookstore in Homewood, IL

Rating: 4 stars   

Category: Chinese Carryout, Fiction, Grandma’s Pot Roast, Mysteries and Thrillers, Book Club

Publication date: October 1, 2019

Author Website:

What Others are Saying:

“[I]n essence a mystery . . . its SF trappings give it . . . genre-blending appeal. The novel delivers a fascinating exploration of an intriguing question: When death becomes not only inevitable, but something we can plan for years in advance, does it lose its power to terrify, or, alternately, does the known end date carry its own kind of terror? A smart and expertly written story.”  —David Pitt, Booklist

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