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Shovel Ready (Spademan 1) Paperback – 14 Jan 2014

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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Headline (14 Jan. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1472214676
  • ISBN-13: 978-1472214676
  • Product Dimensions: 15.4 x 2.1 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 675,248 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Hardboiled as f*** with writing as fierce and sharp as a paper-cut (Lauren Beukes, author of The Shining Girls)

Savage future noir that crackles with deadpan wit (Nick Harkaway, author of The Gone-Away World and Angelmaker)

Debut novels as sleek, resonant and accomplished as this are a rare gift (Megan Abbott, author of Dare Me)

Elegant, lean and clever noir (Roger Hobbs, author of Ghostman)

Book Description

In this hard-boiled dystopian thriller, Spademan talks like Marlowe, handles a blade like Dexter, roams the streets like Reacher, and has a style all his own.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Rowena Hoseason HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 19 Dec. 2013
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Shovel Ready is a savage, stylish stab at a convincingly chilling near-future. It's blunt and brutal, written very much in the manner of the modern American novel. The result is a slim but gripping book, a plot in constant movement set in a starkly possible dystopia which feels as if it could be just around the corner.

In this tomorrow, New York has been hollowed out by fear and economic collapse following terrorist attacks. It's an underworld, populated by parasites, the helpless and the hopeless. Anyone who can afford the fees jacks into a virtual world where online evangelists sell the perfect paradise. We hitch up with the nihilistic Spademan and are dragged through the gutters with him.
Don't expect much in the way of detailed description or extended explanation. The main characters are deftly but sparsely drawn, their histories revealed only when the action pauses. Brutalised by events and emotional trauma, Spademan views himself simply as a bullet and his victims' deaths as inevitable. What could be a predictable storyline - he can't bring himself to kill a young woman on the run and instead winds up as her protector - sidesteps the clichés of traditional gumshoe noir and subverts expectations with violent intensity and a couple of nifty plot twists that caught me by surprise.

Shovel Ready is a short slice of vivid realisation; easy to read, in the main, and delivered with the assurance of an accomplished author. However, the stylised use of speech as standard text does make it hard to tell the difference between narration and speech at times. So instead of adding to the atmosphere this stunt-storytelling device actually detracted from the action while I puzzled out whether someone was speaking at the time...

8/10
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Martyn Davies on 13 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Dystopian sci-fi about a hit-man in future (or alternative present?) New York, where it seems that there's plenty to do for a hard-working, skilled assassin. Asked to kill off an evangelist's daughter, Spademan instead finds her a kindred spirit (and handy with a knife to boot) ending up in a reverse mission to go after the top people at the church.

There's a great wry humour to the scene setting, for example: "Ducks, plucked and bashful, hung on hooks in a windowpane, like a warning to other outlaw ducks", or how about this: "She opens a beer for her, then one for me, puts them on the coffee table between us like we're playing chess with only two pieces."

I should warn that there is some graphic violence, but it is a compelling tale and hard to put down; a rather excellent first novel.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Sid Nuncius #1 HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on 1 Feb. 2015
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is a good, readable novel. It promises to be excellent in the first half, but works less well later on.

Set in a near-ish future, the story itself is, at heart, a pretty well-worn idea of a cynical hit-man who is hired to kill a young woman, finds he has some scruples and feelings and ends up protecting her and tackling a Sinister Conspiracy Of The Powerful. However, the book is lifted well above the ordinary by the excellent narrative voice which is sharp, pacy and very engaging.

Adam Sternbergh also paints a convincing picture of a dystopian, New York following some devastating attacks on the city and creates a very good (if not entirely original) idea of a virtual reality into which people retreat more and more. This doesn't dominate the story, but provides both interesting context and important plot elements. I found the character of the hit-man narrator convincing and surprisingly engaging, and other characters are well drawn, if a little familiar form similar books, and all this kept me very engrossed for at least the first half of the book. However, I thought the plot wasn't well structured enough to really hold me once the initial impact of style and setting wore off. It became a bit disjointed and less convincing and the rather obvious set-up for the next in the series rang a little false.

Nevertheless, I can recommend this as an exciting and enjoyable novel and I will certainly read the next one. It's not a brilliant book but it's a good one and well worth reading.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Emile Zola reader TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Jan. 2014
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of this book. New York has been devastated by a dirty bomb and is now just a bleak and burned-out shell where violence reigns on the streets and the poor try to get by as best they can. The rich live in secure isolation protected by bodyguards and hi-tech security systems. To avoid the utter desolation of reality, the rich escape into hi-tech pods where their own personal dreams and desires await them.

Spademan used to be a garbage collector before he lost his wife and is now a hit man. He will take out anyone - bar children - but he won't engage with the client other than to get the name of the victim and collect payment in advance. The story centres around a particular hit that Spademan has accepted - the daughter of the most powerful evangelist to emerge following the disaster that is New York.

The plot is racy and the terse style of writing reminds me a little of Cormac McCarthy's `No Country for Old Men'. However, half-way through the book the plot seemed to change from an exciting thriller into some kind of sex-hyped, sci-fi romp which, to be honest, bored me with all the whys and wherefores.
This is a good debut novel and I thoroughly enjoyed the first half and I wouldn't be at all surprised to hear that a film studio had bought the rights to it.
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