Fringe Noir

FringeSinsSins of the Father, the latest novel from Christa Faust, is somewhat similar to her Hard Case Crime hardboiled adventures. It features a con man, a high-stakes sting, and lots of gunplay. Let’s call it Fringe noir: things start badly and quickly get worse.

The year is 2008 and Peter Bishop (our anti-hero) is in Bangkok to squeeze some money from a group of trigger-happy Koreans and Chechens. Bishop wasn’t particularly a brave guy. But he needed a quick influx of cash to settle a lingering debt. Being reckless was part of the game plan.

Scams like this weren’t new for a grifter like Bishop. He’d been on the road constantly since he was a teenager – picking up odd jobs, engineering a variety of shady rackets, and then moving on. Over the years he had become a master manipulator. “That was his secret power,” writes the author. “The ability to think on his feet, and talk his way in and out of any situation.” In addition, Bishop was unburdened by quaint, old-fashioned concepts of morality. He just made sure his sliding moral scale always tipped in his favor.

But this sticky Korean/Chechen deal wasn’t going very smoothly. Bishop found himself in the middle of a complicated caper that would ultimately lead back to his father, Dr. Walter Bishop, his father’s best friend, William Bell (R.I.P. Leonard Nimoy), and a secret war between parallel universes. Interestingly, the novel ends in an Iraqi hotel lobby. If you’re a long-time Fringe fan, you’ll remember this location as the place Bishop bumps into Olivia Dunham during the first episode of the TV series.

With this book, Faust has now written three prequels to the Fringe macrocosm (the other two books include The Zodiac Paradox and The Burning Man). Despite some road bumps along the way, we’ve enjoyed revisiting the series in prose format. If additional tie-in novels are in the pipeline, however, we’re hoping to see more characters involved, most notably lab assistant Astrid Farnsworth, FBI agent Phillip Broyles, meddling futurian September, and Olivia Dunham’s alt-universe proxy.

While on TV, Fringe created a complex and rich mythology. Of the three main characters, Peter Bishop probably got the least amount of screen time. And yet the entire show exists due to him. Walter Bishop was the brains, the heart, and the soul of Fringe. Olivia Dunham was the show’s conscience. But Peter was the catalyst, and, ultimately, the glue that kept Fringe Division together. Hopefully this isn’t the last Fringe novel we’ll read.

[Fringe: Sins of the Father / By Christa Faust / First Printing: August 2014 / ISBN: 9781781163139]

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