Infinite Ground

Infinite Ground by Scottish writer Martin MacInnes is a highly original and confounding mystery that blurs the line between certainty and illusion. One night in a Latin American city that's not identified, the young man named Carlos vanishes from a restaurant. No one sees him leave, and there are no traces of him anywhere.

The unnamed investigator hired to find Carlos becomes absorbed with the nebulous nature of his life. Vasquez and Kandinski, Carlos's coworkers, report that they witnessed increasingly strange physical and behavioral changes at the mysterious corporation where he was employed doing, they agree, nothing that was noticeable. His apartment offers few clues. "He was a segment of environment. He was almost nothing.... How are you going to find that?" asks Isabella, a scientist who suggests, startlingly, that microorganisms can slowly transform a human body into something completely different. The investigator, solitary and increasingly unmoored, moves through the city unsure of his own relationship to his surroundings and experiencing frequent dreamlike shifts in reality.

Paragraphs from an obscure book about native tribes foretell the irrevocable choice that the investigator makes to follow Carlos's trail deep into the tropical rain forest. There, alone and obsessed, he is consumed by the wilderness around him, causing his identity as an individual to be replaced with something more elemental. "How much more could there be, he thought, of him, to give, and of this?" MacInnes, in his debut novel, writes with savage precision of transformation, substitution and the question of what is true and untrue. --Cindy Pauldine, bookseller, the river's end bookstore, Oswego, N.Y.

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