On a winter night on a remote Nebraska road, 27-year-old Mark Schluter flips his truck in a near-fatal accident. His older sister Karin, his only near kin, returns reluctantly to their hometown to nurse Mark back from a traumatic head injury. But when he emerges from a protracted coma, Mark believes that this woman-who looks, acts, and sounds just like his sister-is really an identical impostor. Shattered by her brother's refusal to recognize her, Karin contacts the cognitive neurologist Gerald Weber, famous for his case histories describing the infinitely bizarre worlds of brain disorder. Weber recognizes Mark as a rare case of Capgras Syndrome, a doubling delusion, and eagerly investigates. What he discovers in Mark slowly undermines even his own sense of being. Meanwhile, Mark, armed only with a note left by an anonymous witness, attempts to learn what happened the night of his inexplicable accident. The truth of that evening will change the lives of all three beyond recognition.
Set against the Platte River's massive spring migrations-one of the greatest spectacles in nature-The Echo Maker is a gripping mystery that explores the improvised human self and the even more precarious brain that splits us from and joins us to the rest of creation.
Part of the joy of reading Powers over the years has been his capacity for revelation. His scientific discourses point to how the world works, but the struggles of his characters, whether down-and-out misfits like Mark or well-heeled magicians like Weber, help us understand how we work. And that s where the setting 2002, early 2003 comes in. As the features of life after 9/11 come into focus the engagement in Afghanistan, "that bleak, first anniversary" of the attacks, the march to war in Iraq Powers accomplishes something magnificent, no facile conflation of personal catastrophe with national calamity, but a lovely essay on perseverance in all its forms.