If an author writes more than two books, most likely he/she is hoping that you’ll like one and move on to read the others. Often readers choose a book because they’re familiar with the author and want to read other works by that author.
That’s my cunning plan, anyway.
That’s often how I choose what to read.
Readers often start a new author because a friend recommends them. In my case it was a neighbor. My next door neighbor is a highly intelligent avid scifi reader, so I asked him what he liked. He introduced me to Peter Hamilton.
I first read Mindstar Rising. Loved it! This is an early work when Hamilton wrote normal sized novels. I raced back and delved into Nano Flower and Quantum Murder. Awesome. Then I waded into his the Night’s Dawn Trilogy and liked it, but felt like I had over eaten at the banquet table. (three really large novels)
So I digested for several years until Great North Road caught my eye. Here’s a stand alone novel that involves a dynasty of clones and a murder mystery. Yea!
Angelo Tramelo is a one-in-ten, which means she looks like twenty, but is much older and has a life span in the hundreds. (my fantasy) She’s witness to a brutal mass slaying at the mansion of bioil powerhouse Bartram North, one of three surviving cloned brothers from which several generations of clones have sprung, creating a few edit errors along the way. Angelo is the sole survivor of this mass murder and in her defense, she claims that the murderer was an unknown alien.
No one believes her and she’s off to jail. Twenty years later another North clone is murdered in the same manner…five whirling blades to the chest, and Angela is pulled out of prison to help solve the crime. By now the three brothers have established Northumberland Interstellar Corp. that funds gateway systems manufacture and opens gateways to worlds throughout the galaxy. Brother Augustine stays on Earth, brother Bartram heads to St. Libra to establish the algae paddies for a bioil conglomerate (and is murdered) and Constantine launches a Jupiter habitat.
So the story is rich in high tech gadgets, future medical and energy advances and galaxy spanning action.
Enter detective Sidney Hurst. He is given the case of the murdered North mystery clone. Methodically he fights the city’s bureaucracy to try to solve a murder case that just keeps getting more and more complicated and weirder. He’s very much your stereotypic detective who plods along, but is smart and a great family man and you’re just rooting for him to succeed against ridiculous odds. He just won’t give up until the case is solved.
Hamilton does a nice job of balancing the clues so that the reader goes back and forth wondering if it’s a North Dynasty power struggle or a possible weird alien involvement, or maybe both.
I have noticed a number of science fiction murder mystery/detective style novels lately and I enjoy this sub genre. Katherine Rusch does a nice job with her Retrieval Series and Jon Courtenay Grimwood also with his Arabesk Series (Pashazade, Effendi and Felaheen). I really liked his Nine Tails Fox that had a detective solving his own murder after being downloaded into another body.
Needless to say, I was up until 1:30 last night trying to finish Great North Road.
I liked the action that keeps ramping up as the story progresses. Unfortunately at 948 pages, Hamilton could have used a good editor to hone the story a bit. I would get a piece of action in the mystery and then, a flashback to a whole block of earlier events in a particular character’s life.
This time, however, the number of characters were manageable, except for the clones and that was helped by the fact that if the clone was a clone of Augustine, his name began with an ‘A’ . Bartram’s clones began with ‘B’ and Constantine with ‘C’. Of course, since they were all clones and looked alike, those labels were not always truthful. Shuffling around clones can get a bit confusing, especially if you can’t identify the victim exactly, much less discover a possible elusive alien murderer.
Needless to say, it’s a good story. The ending could have been pared back as Hamilton goes on and on after the action is done about what happens in the future. Nice to know, but it gets to be a bit much. Besides, by then, my eyes were blurry and needed rest.
All in all, though, I highly recommend the novel and hope you enjoy it.
I am in the proofing stages for Space Song and expect the book to be published soon. Looking over the several books, I noticed that they each have a subgenre. Caught in Time is a time travel romance, A Dangerous Talent for Time is a time travel with scavenger hunt/riddle, Cosmic Entanglement is a mystery at a Space Academy and Past the Event Horizon is a space adventure involving alien first contact. Space Song is a genetic mystery with an alien invasion threat. So, hopefully, one of them will strike your fancy.
If you like one, then tell your neighbor.
He or she might appreciate it.