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More of Greg's Jedi Mind Tricks
on 16 February 2007
Following on from 'Mindstar Rising', Greg Mandel is once more persuaded to leave his farm and use his special interrogatory talents and techniques. Dr Edward Kitchener has been found in his home, ritually slaughtered with the MO of a serial killer. The house was thoroughly secure, however, and the killer in question locked up in a secure facility at the time of the murder. The only possible suspects were Kitchener's six students. Greg, via his empathic gland, has already determined they are all innocent.
One has to applaud Hamilton for not only creating a page-turning sequel to Mindstar Rising, but also for placing it in such a realistic setting with a detailed back story.
Hamilton's Britain is about thirty years ahead of when he wrote this. The ice-caps have melted, the sea level has risen, Britain has shrunk to a shadow of its former self and is recovering from several years of dictatorial rule by the People's Socialist Party and their thuggish black-shirted People's Constables.
In fact, the novel begins with Greg having to rescue a neighbour in his village from a lynch mob who believe him to be ex-PSP, which sets the tone very well for the background of the story.
Hamilton still seems to be finding his feet plotwise, since it's not that difficult to guess how Kitchener was murdered, although the why of it thankfully remains a mystery to the end. As a kind of light relief counter-tale to the main plot Julia Evans plots to bring down a media commentator who seems to revel in criticising Julia's choice of outfits for public appearances.
What is exceptional about this book, and in a sense heralds Hamilton's later work and his multi-character epics, is the characterisation. He certainly seems to have a gift for bringing personality and individuality to even the smallest characters.
Once again, perhaps the only failing in the novel is that Greg Mandel is just too damned happy. He has his own farm, a gorgeous wife, the friendship and patronage of the richest woman in Europe and everyone likes him, apart from those who are a tad nervous of his spooky Jedi mindtricks.
A little traditional gumshoe loneliness and angst might have made Mandel's character more convincing and enhanced the sexual tension between Julia and himself, but it's a small quibble. The book is a solid and enjoyable piece of work.