Top positive review
2 people found this helpful
on 19 September 2007
Set in a near future dystopian New York and London, this high-energy story pits mid-level hitman Avery Cates against the two most powerful forces in the quasi-fascist world. The first of these is the System Security Force (SSF), the totally tricked-out elite troops who keep the peace in the name of the System of Federated Nations. (If is the "SS" in their name reminds you of another group of elite soldiers, it's probably intentional.) Of course, in this class-stratified future, keeping the peace pretty much means keeping the plebes in line and protecting the wealth and health of the upper crust. They don't pay too much attention to small fry like Cates until one of his hits goes bad, and he kills an undercover SSF officer.
Alas, if you kill an SSF officer, all bets are off, and you're lucky if you live 24 hours. As it happens, Cates is incredibly lucky -- instead of being stomped into a pink puddle, he is made an offer he can't refuse and is directed to kill a very high profile target. This brings him up against a sinister religion known as The Electric Church, whose membership is growing at an exponential rate. The reason for its growth may lie in the wild rumors of forced conversion and brainwashing, rumors that Cates' new assignment will prove or dispel.
Jam-packed with fast and furious cinematic action, the book's real distinguishing feature is its colorful cast of characters. Cates assembles a team to help him -- including a weedy acquaintance with mysterious mental abilities, a British techie on the lam, and strange twin sisters specializing in transportation -- and then leads them to London for the big showdown. It's crucial in these kind of stories (or movies) that the hero be likable and his henchmen interesting. Cates, as the hitman with a heart of, well, silver if not gold, is charismatic and flawed enough to carry the story (until the end, when he kind of loses it), and the cast of supporting characters have enough personality and surprises to keep one interested. The overall effect is kind of comic-booky (not in a bad way), and while it's not exactly groundbreaking or earth-shattering stuff, it should fit the bill for those looking for an action-packed futuristic shoot-em-up.