Sunday, November 2, 2014

Shovel Ready, by Adam Sternbergh

I like quirky. I like mystery. I like science fiction and dystopian themes. I like edgy, dark , noir tinted story-lines, that tiptoe into suspense and prick the shadows of life. I liked Shovel Ready.

I'd been in the dumps, because several of my favorite thriller writers have passed from this life, leaving me minus their writing skills, and a hole in my literary friendships as well. The characters I've followed now exist in some sort of unfinished arc limbo. Happily, Adam Sternbergh gives every indication of helping to fill this gap created by the untimely demise of other well-loved authors.

Shovel Ready introduces readers to a New York City in the not so distant future. The big difference between our Big Apple and this one is that someone set off a dirty bomb in Times Square, tainting much of the city, and causing much of the population to flee. The remaining inhabitants mostly occupy that rung of society's ladder that is too poor, too battered, or too zoned out to leave. The other big difference is that, while the internet still exists, it's mostly for the scruffy folks. There is, however,  a new play-toy, a modern day opiate that is a linked in virtual reality. There, you can make your own dreams come true, but only if you have enough money to afford both hooking into a fantasy world and the attendants to keep you safe, and monitor your intake of nutrients given IV to sustain you while you are hooked in.

Spademan was a garbageman in the old New York. In this world, he is a hit-man, taking out lives someone else deems garbage. He's got his own set of principles. (I kill men. I kill women because I don't discriminate. I don't kill children because that's a different kind of psycho.) He's got his box cutter, which he uses to dispatch his victims. He's got a circle of friends, and he's got his memories of days before the bomb, before his wife was killed and he and the city tumbled into a different world. He's hired to kill the run-away daughter of a powerful (in both the real and virtual worlds) evangelist. He asks no questions as to motives, just sees himself as the bullet (or box cutter) that gets the job done.

Except, things aren't as clearcut as they seem, and Spademan finds himself sorting through realities, switching from hunter, to protector, to avenger. It's a gritty, dark ride, but promises to be the beginning of a new series to follow.

Thank you to Blogging for Books and to the publisher for sending me this copy to read. I look forward to future books in the series.

Tags: blogging-for-bookscurrently-reading,dystopian-ishpart-start-of-a-seriesscience-fictionsuspense-thriller

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