An Alternate History Thriller

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I. Love. Alternate. Histories. Empire of Lies is a particularly fascinating one. It begins by answering the question, "What if the Ottoman Empire defeated Europe and was permitted to expand?"

Most of the novel takes place in Paris in the year 2017, but this is not the Paris we're used to. Notre Dame is a mosque, the genders are separated in public life, and Turkish is the language spoken. Kamal is a highly respected police detective who is beginning to question his orders. The government is reacting to economic turmoil by imprisoning anyone who questions, criticizes, or satirizes it, and the woman Kamal loves, Nisreen, is being watched.

There's a great deal of prelude in Empire of Lies, but that's unavoidable. Raymond Khoury has fascinating changes for the world and powerful motivations for his characters to show us, as well as an odd, heavily tattooed man who makes some fantastic claims about himself while sedated. This is at least as much a procedural thriller as it is a sci-fi/fantasy novel. The tone struck me as somewhat similar to that of Jo Walton's "Small Change" series, another alternate history that hinges on a good police detective being asked to do terrible things by his government.

Then the time travel, and the real fun, started....

Much like another recent release, Annalee Newitz' "The Future of Another Timeline", Khoury comments on world politics in this novel. Both novels grapple with the ideas of who should control the world, who gets to make history, and whether the future can be changed. The final chapter appears to leave an opening for a sequel. Whether or not that comes to pass, Empire of Lies is entertainment that will make the reader think.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing an ARC in exchange for a fair and honest review.