Thursday, 22 November 2012

Book Review: Kop by Warren Hammond

Pros: gritty, complex characters, intricate mystery

Cons: gritty

Juno Mozambe is a member of the Koba Office of Police, and like the chief, Paul, his former partner, and numerous other members of KOP, he's dirty.  When Paul asks him to take a homicide case his trembling right hand and concerned wife remind him that his enforcer days are over.  But this is an important case and Juno can't say no to Paul, even when Paul sticks him with a new partner, fresh from the academy Maggie Orzo.  Something's going on that's even dirtier than the partnership between the chief of police and Koba's kingpin of crime, Ben Bandur, and Juno's got to prove it.

This is a noir SF set on a planet 15 light years from Earth.  The planet's main export dried up years ago and now its economy is dead.  The worldbuilding is quite good, with various slum neighbourhoods and the remnants of the plantation rich in crime free neighbourhoods.  Most outside money comes from tourism, but even that's turned bad for the locals.  It's the perfect setting for a crime novel, and the mix of races gives it flavour.

The grittiness is both a pro and a con for this book as it is the scene, but can become overbearing at times.  The world is thoroughly depressing and it's unclear if the protagonist is doing the right thing.

Juno's dirty but he's also, somehow, a decent guy.  His enforcer history is mentioned and towards the end of the book he denegrates back into the lifestyle somewhat, and yet, he's very sympathetic and likeable.

As is Maggie.  I was impressed that the two of them end up working together so well and trusting each other despite his being dirty and her being a straight arrow.  It's entirely realistic when she discovers that his way gets results that hers wouldn't, and so she starts letting things slide while still being optimistic about cleaning up the force in the future.  

The case begins as fairly straight forward, but takes several turns as the pair discover just how much things are changing for the worse.  It's very intricate with twists that are hard to predict.

This is a fantastic noir tale.  If you like gritty SF, pick this up.

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