Top positive review
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A writer to watch ... and a great read too.
on 17 August 2014
The story of a boy, Arturo Basilides, surviving in the slums of a war-ravaged city under the control of a ruling elite, and his attempts to bring down the established rule in a not too distant future is a fascinating foray into fantasy science fiction and a relentless read. And I mean that in a good way. Instead of the cliff-hanging ending, we have the cliff-hanging opening, a tense set-piece that sets out the novel’s stall in a few terse paragraphs. Not that I would consider calling this book a light read. More than competently written, it puts a few big names (that I could mention but won’t) to shame, finding a nice balance between minimalism and detail that puts one in mind of the likes of Philip Kerr as opposed to bestselling scribblers like Steve Alten (it had to be said). Short asides fleshing out the landscape of the story, snippets of news, drugs of choice, technological details, never feel intrusive or labored but add to the narrative and only make this fabricated world seem more real. This in itself presents an interesting dichotomy as drug induced visions threaten to tear at the very fabric of reality itself, a further reference to Philip Kerr’s writings (although narratively dissimilar, some of this put me in mind of Kerr’s The Second Angel). As the novel progresses so further complications creep in, not least the notion of the protagonist a terrorist (as opposed to the classic, untainted freedom-fighter), making us question Arturo's motivations and some of his subsequent actions. However, this only adds to the novel’s complexity and further lifts it out of the realm of simple space opera. Certainly, if you are looking for something a bit different but that retains the flights of fancy and a relentless pace that drags the reader along with barely a pause for a breath I can highly recommend this arresting read. If nothing else, it singles out Mister Hale as a writer to watch and I look forward to the next book in this series with interest.