on 6 February 2013
Kop is a police come mafia thriller set on another world far, far away. Lagarto, with a once booming economy, changed almost overnight to a stricken slum planet after the secrets of its main export, a unique brandy was stolen, replicated and produced more cheaply elsewhere. Now the only way any serious money can be made is illegal drugs, prostitution and slave trading but for those who made the long trip from earth hoping for prosperity many years ago, all that's left is Tenttown, disease and despair.
Most of the story's action takes place in Lagarto's capital city of Koba.
The planet's entire police force, Kop, is corrupt starting at the top with Koba Police Chief Paul Chang, who along with close friend and the story's protagonist Juno climbed into bed with the city's crime lord Ram Bandur over twenty years ago.
Together they tore through the city, leaving a path of destruction as both criminals and kops were left with a simple choice work for us or go to jail. Paul arrested his way to the top with Juno as his temper stricken enforcer. Now they run the city but things are about to change, there is a new mayor with big plans and cleaning up kop is high on his agenda.
Juno's violent enforcing days are behind him, a dirty kop whose only duty now is collecting protection money as a vice kop, hiding a shaking right hand that threatens his career and living with his partner Niki who also hides a violent past.
Juno has a chequered history, the back story of how he and Paul rise from lowly detectives to running kop is fed to us gradually through the book and makes for interesting reading.
Whilst under heavy scrutinization by the Mayors anticorruption faction and his own chief of detectives Paul asks Juno to investigate the murder of an Army officer, partnering him with a rookie, a rich, clever and straight policewoman Maggie Orzo.
The Mayors office want the case dropping, something is not right, can Juno and his partner put the pieces together while the powers that be meticulously plan to wipe each other out once and for all.
Juno is an easily accessible character, an antihero that could have been the villain but his decisions make him believable in a compelling way, very likeable, his loyalty to Paul is unwavering right up to the end. The story is very well written, world building is excellent, you can just imagine the slum town floating on the flood plain as the jungle forever fights to claim the city and the offworlders with incredible technology, perfect in every way. There is enough twists and turns to maintain a frenetic pace throughout, no shortage of violence and character development is handled superbly.
I already have the second and third novels Ex-Kop and Kop Killer and will be reading soon after this thoroughly impressive debut.
on 30 March 2009
this book is a bit hard work and at the beginning you have to force yourself to read it, but it's very original in blending fantastical sci fi with gritty, violent crime fiction. In Juno Mozambe, as the blurb rightly says, we find a 'deeply flawed but worthy hero', and he can be very cruel and violent in his methods. The cliffhanger ending was great