Review: THE FORCE by Don Winslow (Harper Collins/William Morrow)

WinslowD-TheForceUKPossibly the best thriller (or novel) of the year?

Everyone can be bought. At the right price…

Detective sergeant Denny Malone leads an elite unit to fight gangs, drugs and guns in New York. For eighteen years he’s been on the front lines, doing whatever it takes to survive in a city built by ambition and corruption, where no one is clean.

What only a few know is that Denny Malone himself is dirty: he and his partners have stolen millions of dollars in drugs and cash. Now he’s caught in a trap and being squeezed by the Feds, and he must walk a thin line of betrayal, while the city teeters on the brink of a racial conflagration that could destroy them all.

Don Winslow’s latest novel is a haunting story of greed and violence, inequality and race, and a searing portrait of a city on the edge of an abyss. Full of shocking twists, this is a morally complex and riveting dissection of the controversial issues confronting society today.

The Force is the first of Winslow’s novels that I’ve read. It will definitely not be the last. There was a lot of pre-publication buzz surrounding this novel, and I can certainly now see why: it’s superb. On almost every level, this novel is a triumph. Continue reading

Review: DON’T LOOK FOR ME by Mason Cross (Orion/Pegasus)

CrossM-4-DontLookForMeUKAn excellent fourth Carter Blake novel

Don’t look for me.

It was a simple instruction. And for six long years Carter Blake kept his word and didn’t search for the woman he once loved. But now someone else is looking for her.

He’ll come for you.

Trenton Gage is a hitman with a talent for finding people — dead or alive. His next job is to track down a woman who’s on the run, who is harbouring a secret many will kill for.

Both men are hunting the same person. The question is, who will find her first?

I loved the first three novels in Cross’s Carter Blake series. They could be seen as an opening trilogy, and after that story’s explosive ending, I wondered where Cross would take his character in the future. In Don’t Look For Me, the author adjusts the focus a bit, and gives readers a smaller-scale story that is no less gripping and enjoyable. Continue reading

Review: ACADIE by Dave Hutchinson (Tor.com)

HutchinsonD-AcadieA very cool sci-fi mystery

The first humans still hunt their children across the stars…

The Colony left Earth to find their utopia–a home on a new planet where their leader could fully explore the colonists’ genetic potential, unfettered by their homeworld’s restrictions. They settled a new paradise, and have been evolving and adapting for centuries.

Earth has other plans.

The original humans have been tracking their descendants across the stars, bent on their annihilation. They won’t stop until the new humans have been destroyed, their experimentation wiped out of the human gene pool.

Can’t anyone let go of a grudge anymore?

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Acadie. I’ve only heard great things about Hutchinson’s Fractured Europe trilogy, so I had pretty high hopes for this stand-alone novella. I’m happy to report that it exceeded my expectations, and was a lot of fun. I think a lot of people are going to love this. Continue reading

Review: WONDER WOMAN, Vol.1 (DC Comics, Rebirth)

WonderWoman-Rebirth-Vol.01Writer: Greg Rucka | Art: Liam Sharp, Matthew Clark, Sean Parsons, Laura Martin, Jeremy Colwell | Letters: Jodi Wynne

Heroic. Iconic. Unstoppable. Armed with her Lasso of Truth and imbued with the power of the gods themselves, Princess Diana of Themyscira –known to the world as Wonder Woman — is one of the greatest superheroes in history.
 
But who is she… really? Not even Wonder Woman herself knows for sure. Diana’s links to both the Amazons and the Gods of Olympus have been severed. Her memories are a tangle of contradictions that even her lie-detecting lasso cannot untangle.
 
To solve the riddle of her origin, she must embark on her greatest quest of all: finding a way back to her vanished home. To get there, she must team up with her greatest enemy, the feral beast-woman, Cheetah. Will this unlikely alliance shine the light of truth on Diana’s darkest secrets, or bury them-and her-forever?

Collects: Wonder Woman #1, #3, #5, #7, #9, #11; Wonder Woman: Rebirth one-shot.

An interesting start to the most recent Wonder Woman series, written by returning scribe Greg Rucka, one of my favourite comics writers. This is a pretty good starting point for anyone new to the character, whether you’ve seen the excellent new movie or not. Although, of course, as this is a first volume, you are mainly getting an extended introduction to larger events still to come. Continue reading

Interview with VIVIAN SHAW

Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Vivian Shaw?

At the moment, an expat Brit living in Baltimore with her wife, the author Arkady Martine. I was born in Kenya to a couple of scientists, and my family moved a bunch of times when I was very young, following the trail of postdoc positions, but I’ve been in Maryland most of my life.

Your debut novel, Strange Practice, will be published by Orbit in July. It looks pretty interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

The easiest way to explain it is probably, “Dr. Greta Helsing sees dead people, every day from ten to four and by appointment, at her Harley Street clinic.” Strange Practice is set in a world quite like our own, but with one crucial difference: monsters exist, and magic is real. Greta has inherited her father’s extremely specialized medical practice, catering solely to the supernatural, and gets a lot of satisfaction out of the job – she enjoys performing reconstructive surgery on mummies in particular. Continue reading

Review: TROPIC OF KANSAS by Christopher Brown (Voyager)

brownc-tropicofkansasusA terrifyingly realistic dystopian novel

The United States of America is no more. Broken into warring territories, its center has become a wasteland DMZ known as “the Tropic of Kansas.” Though this gaping geographic hole has no clear boundaries, everyone knows it’s out there — that once-bountiful part of the heartland, broken by greed and exploitation, where neglect now breeds unrest. Two travelers appear in this arid American wilderness: Sig, the fugitive orphan of political dissidents, and his foster sister Tania, a government investigator whose search for Sig leads her into her own past — and towards an unexpected future.

Sig promised those he loves that he would make it to the revolutionary redoubt of occupied New Orleans. But first he must survive the wild edgelands of a barren mid-America policed by citizen militias and autonomous drones, where one wrong move can mean capture… or death. One step behind, undercover in the underground, is Tania. Her infiltration of clandestine networks made of old technology and new politics soon transforms her into the hunted one, and gives her a shot at being the agent of real change — if she is willing to give up the explosive government secrets she has sworn to protect.

As brother and sister traverse these vast and dangerous badlands, their paths will eventually intersect on the front lines of a revolution whose fuse they are about to light.

As the news is filled with stories of creeping fascism, an increase in the militarization of police forces, and a “fortress America” mentality settling in for those on the right (although, mostly, it’s anyone who voted for Donald Trump), this novel feels frighteningly realistic. It is also very good. Continue reading

Interview with GUY ADAMS

AdamsG-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Guy Adams?

There are creatures at the depths of Earth’s oceans that exist alone in the darkness. If they stray too close to the light they explode, their bodies having developed in this isolated, salty world. Instead, they float, thoughts adrift in whatever imaginations they possess. Subsisting on whatever floats their way.

Guy Adams is like that, only with more cats.

I’ve written around forty books, which is, obviously, utterly absurd. They include The Clown Service series from Del Rey UK, Deadbeat from Titan and The Heaven’s Gate trilogy from Solaris. Continue reading