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State of the Arts


Published November 2, 2011 at 12:01 p.m.


This week, we’re spotlighting one of the many local books we’ve received over the past year. We’ll continue to do this on a regular basis, covering both commercially published books and worthy self-published ones.

Have you ever seen a crowd at a rock show or political rally that seemed to function eerily like a single composite organism? Or wondered if your individual comings and goings were part of some greater pattern visible only to a godlike overview? Such meditations fuel Dance of the Innocents, a high-concept thriller from Burlington photographer and Brautigan Library founder Todd R. Lockwood.

David Peters, a laid-off marketer with time on his hands, examines recently declassified satellite images of his city and makes a startling discovery. When he uses time-lapse manipulation to eliminate random deviations, people appear to be moving in a distinct collective pattern ... actually “dancing,” like bees in a hive.

Then the city’s “dancers” begin to develop cancer at an alarming rate. The Centers for Disease Control struggle to control the epidemic, while the U.S. military pursues its own agenda — and David, who holds the key to the mysterious events, becomes a man on a mission.

It’s not easy to pull off this kind of mind-bending premise, and Lockwood has a straightforward, no-fuss style that serves him well, even when the plot hinges on improbable coincidences. (Hey, everything’s connected, right?) The characters never transcend stereotypes; this is the type of novel where, if a Native American appears, he’s sure to lecture the hero on his forebears’ ancient, nature-inspired wisdom. But tired stock elements never kept Dan Brown from selling books, and they aren’t such a problem here, either — at least for thriller fans — once the plot gets clicking.

Some readers may find the eventual resolution of the mystery too New Agey; others may be enraptured. But no one can deny that, in posing this intriguing “What if...?” Lockwood stands out from the crowd.

Dance of the Innocents Todd R. Lockwood, iUniverse, 275 pages. $17.95. Lockwood reads and signs copies on Thursday, November 3, 7:30 to 9 p.m. at the Amy E. Tarrant Gallery, Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Burlington.