In Ben H. Winter’s newest novel, society resides within “Golden State,” tethered together by truth and hard facts. Every inch of “Golden State” is laden with cameras capturing reality in real time, keeping facts on the record. What happened to the society before “Golden State?” They don’t know. They can’t know because guessing would give way to fiction and being caught in a lie is a punishable offense.

Lazlo Ratsick, a Speculator (specially trained police with clearance to speculate), can more than hear lies, he can feel them like hot ash in his throat. A 19-year veteran of the force, brother to a fallen hero and self-proclaimed lone wolf, Lazlo finds himself paired with a newcomer. They are sent to unravel an anomaly.

“Golden State” imagines a society in which fake news should not be possible, where everything your neighbor, newspaper or government tells you is the truth, where liars are imprisoned or exiled to the surrounding desert. However, as Lazlo points out, not all truths need to be spoken. 

Winters’ choice to not allow characters to imagine what may have happened or what may happen next offers the reader a unique opportunity to play detective. With each interview you can’t help but leap forward with theories the cops can’t pose and try to unravel the anomaly first.

Winters’ book is just the kind of novel to keep your mind agile as the snow piles up, tempting you to stay home with a good book. 

“Golden State” is set for release Jan. 22.

Jessey Nickells reviews books for the Leavenworth Times.