Review: AGE OF ASSASSINS by RJ Barker (Orbit)

BarkerRJ-AgeOfAssassinsUSAn interesting new debut fantasy series

It’s a game of assassin versus assassin

Girton Club-foot has no family, a crippled leg, and is apprenticed to the best assassin in the land.

He’s learning the art of taking lives, but his latest mission tasks him with a far more difficult challenge: to save a life. Someone is trying to kill the heir to the throne, and it is up to Girton to uncover the traitor and prevent the prince’s murder — and his own.

This is the first new fantasy series that I’ve read in quite some time. In fact, it’s only the second this year (the other was Ed McDonald’s Blackwing). Long-time readers of CR may have noticed that I’ve been struggling with the genre for a while, but Age of Assassins really worked for me. This is the start of an interesting, engaging and entertaining new fantasy series. I’m really looking forward to the sequel. Continue reading

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Interview with KEN SCHOLES

ScholesK-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Ken Scholes?

He’s just this guy. Sorry. Douglas Adams reference. I’m Ken Scholes. I’m a dad to a couple of wonderful twin girls. I am a civil servant and sometimes consultant who plays music in the gaps. And I write stuff.

My short stories have been showing up in print since 2000, and have been collected in three volumes published by Fairwood Press. In 2005, I won the Writers of the Future award and tackled my first novel. A year later, Tor picked it up along with the other four (unwritten) books in the series a decade ago this month. Lamentation came out in 2009, and the others have gradually followed.

Your next novel, Hymn, will be published in December by Tor Books. The final book in your Psalms of Isaak series, how would you introduce the series to a new reader?

The world’s most important city is destroyed on the first page of the first book and a mixed group of people impacted by that desolation set out to play their role in history as they try to solve who destroyed the city of Windwir and why. It is a distant future post-apocalyptic saga about human resilience and human nature. I reckon I would point them toward the first novel to give it a try. I am told that the books get progressively better after the first one. Of course, I am too close to it all to see it clearly. Continue reading

Interview with CHRIS BROOKMYRE

BrookmyreC-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is Chris Brookmyre?

I am a writer from Glasgow, Scotland, author of twenty-one novels, eighteen of them crime thrillers. My novel Black Widow won the 2016 McIlvanney Prize for Scottish Crime Novel of the Year and in 2017 was named Theakstons Old Peculier British Crime Novel of the Year. As well as writing books, I collaborated with videogame developers RedBedlam to adapt my 2013 novel Bedlam into a first-person shooter that was released in 2015 on PC, PS4 and Xbox One.

Your latest novel, Places in the Darkness, has recently been published by Orbit. It looks really interesting: How would you introduce it to a potential reader?

It is a thriller in the tradition of the great Shane Black movies like Lethal Weapon, The Last Boy Scout and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, about two mismatched investigators forced to work together, but with two major differences. One is that the buddy cop duo are both women, and the second is that the whole thing takes place aboard the Ciudad de Cielo (City in the Sky), a space station where 300,000 people live and work developing what would be the Earth’s first interstellar craft. It is a place where ambitious scientists and engineers go to work on cutting edge technology, but also where many people go to escape the things that went wrong in their lives back on Earth. The city’s private police force boasts that there has never been a murder aboard (though they do have a liberal interpretation of what constitutes an accidental death), but that changes when a dismembered body is found floating in zero-gravity. Continue reading

Interview with JAMES ALAN GARDNER

GardnerJA-AuthorPicLet’s start with an introduction: Who is James Alan Gardner?

I’m a Canadian writer and editor who’s written nine novels and numerous short stories. I’ve won the Asimov’s Readers Choice award (twice) and the Theodore Sturgeon Memorial Award, as well as being a finalist for the Hugo and Nebula. I have two degrees in Math, half a degree in Geology, and a second-degree black sash in kung fu.

Your new novel, the fantastically-titled All those Explosions Were Someone Else’s Fault, will be published by Tor Books. It looks rather fun: How would you introduce it to a potential reader? Is it part of a series?

It’s Book 1 of a series that takes place in modern times on an alternate version of Earth. In this world, vampires, were-beasts and demons came out of the closet in 1982; they offered to make anyone a Darkling like themselves in exchange for 10 million dollars. Within a few decades, most of the world’s rich and powerful had become Darklings.

Then superheroes showed up. They’re everyday people, members of the 99% who serve as a counterbalance to the supernatural power of the affluent 1%. The action of the book follows four university students who gain superpowers in a laboratory accident and find themselves entangled in Darkling shenanigans. Continue reading

Excerpt: THE DYING GAME by Åsa Avdic (Windmill/Penguin)

AvdicA-DyingGameUKToday, we have an excerpt from a novel I’m really looking forward to reading: Åsa Avdic‘s The Dying Game. Published in the UK by Windmill Books, here’s the synopsis:

‘Oh, it’s really quite simple. I want you to play dead.’

On the remote island of Isola, seven people have been selected to compete in a 48-hour test for a top-secret intelligence position. One of them is Anna Francis, a workaholic with a nine-year-old daughter she rarely sees, and a secret that haunts her. Her assignment is to stage her own death and then observe, from her hiding place inside the walls of the house, how the other candidates react to the news that a murderer is among them. Who will take control? Who will crack under pressure?

But as soon as Anna steps on to the island she realises something isn’t quite right. And then a storm rolls in, the power goes out, and the real game begins…

The Dying Game is out now, published in the UK by Windmill Books, and in North America by Penguin. Now, on with the excerpt!

Continue reading

Excerpt: HUNT YOU DOWN by Christopher Farnsworth (Zaffre)

FarnsworthC-HuntYouDownUKToday, we have a short excerpt from Christopher Farnsworth‘s latest thriller, Hunt You Down. The second novel in the author’s John Smith series, it is published in the UK by Zaffre today. Here’s the synopsis:

John Smith is no ordinary gun for hire.

Smith is a man of rare gifts, and he knows your every thought…

Hired to track down a shooter targeting the rich and famous, Smith must complete his mission before another attack takes place. But when a website on the dark net is found to have connections to the murders, Smith realises that taking down a shadowy figure who has weaponised the internet will prove more difficult than he first thought.

And no matter how hard he tries, this criminal mastermind continues to remain one step ahead.

The novel is published in North America by William Morrow, as Flashmob. The first novel in the series, Kill File, is also published by Zaffre and William Morrow. Now, here’s the excerpt…

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Quick Review: IRONCLADS by Adrian Tchaikovsky (Solaris)

TchaikovskyA-IroncladsAn interesting new SF war novella with a twist

Scions have no limits

Scions do not die

And Scions do not disappear

Sergeant Ted Regan has a problem. A son of one of the great corporate families, a Scion, has gone missing at the front. He should have been protected by his Ironclad – the lethal battle suits that make the Scions masters of war – but something has gone catastrophically wrong.

Now Regan and his men, ill-equipped and demoralised, must go behind enemy lines, find the missing Scion, and uncover how his suit failed. Is there a new Ironcladkiller out there? And how are common soldiers lacking the protection afforded the rich supposed to survive the battlefield of tomorrow?

A new book from Adrian Tchaikovsky is always something to be cheered. Ironclads is something a little different — although, given Tchaikovsky’s growing body of varied work, this is perhaps something that we can now expect? Ironclads is an interesting re-imagining of the world: corporations have come to dominate the new world, but supernatural elements of the old world are pushing back. A squad of American soldiers are thrown into a special mission, and everything they thought they knew about the war turns out to have been wrong… Continue reading