OrangeReviewStar Caldwell, Ford, Pyne, the 1950s | Fiction ReviewsPyne, Daniel. Fifty Mice. Blue Rider. Jan. 2015. 304p. ISBN 9780399171642. $26.95; ebk. ISBN 9780698168701. F

Jay Johnson is floating through life; if pressed, he would probably say that happiness has been elusive. After all, being alive isn’t the same as living. Things take a drastic turn for Jay when he’s placed into the witness protection program very much against his will and whisked away to an enclave on Catalina Island, populated with program people and a gaggle of federal agents. They claim he knows something, and he’s convinced they’ve got the wrong guy, so he sets about planning an escape. However, Jay never counted on coming to care for his Fed-provided wife and child, the enigmatic Ginger and her mute daughter. Running out of time, Jay must reach deep inside himself to find an answer, but confronting his past may be more than he can handle. VERDICT Screenwriter and author Pyne (Twentynine Palms) weaves a smart, exceedingly clever, and unusual tale with a horrible secret at its center, which is as much a late ­coming-of-age story as it is a thriller. Fans of brainy noir will find much to love in this highly satisfying, big-screen-ready book. —Library Journal, Kristin ­Centorcelli, Denton, TX