Review: MASKED PREY by John Sandford (G.P. Putnam’s Sons / Simon Schuster UK)

SandfordJ-LD30-MaskedPreyUSRight wing extremists and social media collide in Lucas Davenport’s latest investigation

Lucas Davenport investigates a vitriolic blog that seems to be targeting the children of U.S. politicians…

The daughter of a U.S. Senator is monitoring her social media presence when she finds a picture of herself on a strange blog. And there are other pictures… of the children of other influential Washington politicians, walking or standing outside their schools, each identified by name. Surrounding the photos are texts of vicious political rants from a motley variety of radical groups. It’s obviously alarming — is there an unstable extremist tracking the loved ones of powerful politicians with deadly intent? But when the FBI is called in, there isn’t much the feds can do. The anonymous photographer can’t be pinned down to one location or IP address, and more importantly, at least to the paper-processing bureaucrats, no crime has actually been committed. With nowhere else to turn, influential Senators decide to call in someone who can operate outside the FBI’s constraints: Lucas Davenport.

This is the 29th novel in Sandford’s excellent Lucas Davenport series. I’ve been a fan of the series (as well as the author’s other novels) for decades, and so each new novel is a highlight of my year. In Masked Prey, Sandford takes on two American plagues: guns and internet radicalization. It’s another excellent addition to the series, and a must read for all fans of the series. Continue reading

Quick Review: INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE BRITISH PEOPLE DURING THE EMERGENCY by Jason Hazeley & Nico Tatarowicz (Quercus)

HazeleyTatarowicz-InstructionsForBritishPeopleDuringEmergencyUKA very amusing handbook for these interesting times

An indispensable handbook to see the nation through lockdown, breakdown and meltdown.

As Britain enters a period of tremendous upheaval, your government has requested that everyone immediately undertake a series of life-style changes that may test the nation’s resolve.

Most of it is simple common-sense, but common-sense may be new to you, especially if you are young, wistful or an imbecile.

Indeed, it should be noted that much of what is to come in the weeks and months (and months) ahead will be new to us all. But let us remember that, not so long ago, the same was true of pesto.

We must not lose heart. With stoicism, courage and a substantial supply of alcoholic fortification, we will pull through this together and emerge from it a stronger (or weaker but more experienced) nation.

Sir Clement Apricot-Wilson,
Permanent Secretary
The Department of Unforeseen Circumstances

I was pre-approved for this on NetGalley, and decided to give it a try on a bit on a whim. I’m very glad that I did, because this is at times very funny. As it turned out, this book is just the antidote for these strange and difficult times I was looking for. Very enjoyable. Continue reading

Quick Review: AFTERLAND by Lauren Beukes (Mulholland)

BeukesL-AfterlifeUSA mother and son traverse America, on the run and trying to get home

Most of the men are dead. Three years after the pandemic known as The Manfall, governments still hold and life continues — but a world run by women isn’t always a better place.

Twelve-year-old Miles is one of the last boys alive, and his mother, Cole, will protect him at all costs. On the run after a horrific act of violence-and pursued by Cole’s own ruthless sister, Billie — all Cole wants is to raise her kid somewhere he won’t be preyed on as a reproductive resource or a sex object or a stand-in son. Someplace like home.

To get there, Cole and Miles must journey across a changed America in disguise as mother and daughter. From a military base in Seattle to a luxury bunker, from an anarchist commune in Salt Lake City to a roaming cult that’s all too ready to see Miles as the answer to their prayers, the two race to stay ahead at every step… even as Billie and her sinister crew draw closer.

I’ve been looking forward to Lauren Beukes’s Afterland since it was first announced a couple of years ago. A long-time fan of the author’s work, I had pretty high expectations for the novel. I’m glad to report that I was not disappointed. An interesting novel, with protagonists you’ll root for and plenty of interesting social and cultural observations. Continue reading

New Books (April-May)

NewBooks-20200515

Featuring: A. Deborah Baker, William Boyle, Trudi Canavan, Jim Carrey, P. Djèlí Clark, Susan Eisenhower, T.C. Farren, Thomas Frank, Sarah Gailey, Daniel Hornsby, S. L. Huang, Phil Klay, Derek Künsken, Jenn Lyons, John P. Murphy, Robert Pobi, Alastair Reynolds, Jane Routley, John Sandford, Sara Sligar, Wright Thompson, Rufi Thorpe, Sarah Tolmie, Dana Vachon, Vanessa Veselka, Erin K. Wagner, Jess Walter, C L Werner, Rachel Winters, Julian E. Zelizer

Continue reading

Quick Review: PLAGUE WAR by Guy Haley (Black Library)

HaleyG-DI2-PlagueWarGuilliman and Mortarion finally come into conflict…

Intent on rebuilding Ultramar, the returned primarch Roboute Guilliman wages war on the treacherous Death Guard – but the intervention of a greater power threatens all he works for.

In the void and upon the worlds of Greater Ultramar, the battle for the Imperium continues.

Intent on rebuilding his home realm and using it as base to reconstruct the ravaged stellar empire of mankind, the returned primarch Roboute Guilliman proceeds with his war to drive Mortarion and his Death Guard Traitor Legion from the domain of the Ultramarines.

But when Guilliman brings his brother to battle upon the diseased plains of Parmenio, the intervention of a greater power in their fraternal struggle threatens to upend the Imperial Regent’s understanding of the galaxy, and his place within it.

This is the second novel in Haley’s Dark Imperium trilogy. Meant to coincide with the recent, epic changes in the WH40k setting, it is packed with revelations and action. I enjoyed the first novel in the series, and very much enjoyed this one, too. A must-read for all fans of the WH40k setting. Continue reading

Quick Review: AN UNNATURAL LIFE by Erin K. Wagner (Tor.com)

WagnerEK-AnUnnaturalLifeAn interplanetary tale of identity and responsibility.

The cybernetic organism known as 812-3 is in prison, convicted of murdering a human worker but he claims that he did not do it. With the evidence stacked against him, his lawyer, Aiya Ritsehrer, must determine grounds for an appeal and uncover the true facts of the case.

But with artificial life-forms having only recently been awarded legal rights on Earth, the military complex on Europa is resistant to the implementation of these same rights on the Jovian moon.

Aiya must battle against her own prejudices and that of her new paymasters, to secure a fair trial for her charge, while navigating her own interpersonal drama, before it’s too late.

Who enjoys the full protections of the law? Can an AI have a jury of its peers, if no AIs are represented? Can humans make objective choices if they need to decide the fate of an artificial being? All these and more are the questions asked by Wagner’s interesting novella. Continue reading

Quick Review: UPRIGHT WOMEN WANTED by Sarah Gailey (Tor.com)

GaileyS-UprightWomenWantedReinvents the pulp Western with an explicitly antifascist, near-future story of queer identity.

“That girl’s got more wrong notions than a barn owl’s got mean looks.”

Esther is a stowaway. She’s hidden herself away in the Librarian’s book wagon in an attempt to escape the marriage her father has arranged for her — a marriage to the man who was previously engaged to her best friend. Her best friend who she was in love with. Her best friend who was just executed for possession of resistance propaganda.

The future American Southwest is full of bandits, fascists, and queer librarian spies on horseback trying to do the right thing.

Sarah Gailey has really carved out a niche for herself in the pulp western sub-genre. First, with the American Hippo duology (also published by Tor.com), and now with Upright Women Wanted. I’d been looking forward to this since it was announced, and I’m happy to report that I enjoyed it very much. Continue reading