I got to know Mr. Brackett through a writers group on Facebook. He gave me a copy of the Audible book for review.
Synopsis: Humanity is in the eye of the beholder. But for street-smart detective Amber Payne, it’s the eyes that aren’t human. Cybernetic implants replaced the organics she lost in the line of duty, and their appearance often causes Amber to doubt her self-worth. Rookie detective Kevin Glass is her partner. And though he may be new, Kevin’s unparalleled skill as an elite cyber-surfer makes him an invaluable asset. When Alta Corp contracts the two of them to solve a case of high stakes data theft, they will need every bit of skill, experience, and determination to succeed. For the more they investigate, the more it becomes evident that this case is much more than it appears, and its resolution may forever alter the world in which they live.
Production: This book was narrated by Joy Nash. She’s an excellent narrator and really made the story that much better. She performed each character, though her performances weren’t over the top. She used just enough characterization to aid in keeping them straight.
Story: I love cyberpunk. I played both Cyberpunk and Shadowrun in college and am a big fan of the genre in film and text. I really looked forward to experiencing this story. Jeff certainly didn’t disappoint. He developed his own world, but used all of the tropes that make Cyberpunk what it is. On it’s own, there’s nothing special about the plot. It’s well developed and moves along at a good pace. Where the writing really shines is the characters.
For me a story is all about the characters. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, well developed, interesting characters can make an alright story excellent. And they can flatten an otherwise enjoyable tale. Here it’s definitely a case of the former. The protagonists are an interesting mix of personalities. Amber Payne is a tough female lead who is able to show vulnerability and still kick some ass. Her partner Kevin, a hacker extraordinaire, is also well developed and there are a few secondary characters that I enjoyed quite a bit as well. When bad things happen, and very bad things do happen, I care about what’s going on and when the story comes to a close I was sad to be unable to read book two. Because there isn’t one. Yet.
There’s a boat load of action in this story, and no small amount of mystery. In a book of this length (357 pages in the print edition), he keeps both going. There are a number of plot lines besides the main mystery, and he brings it all to a satisfying conclusion. One surprising scene involved combat in cyberspace and it was just as riveting an action scene as any of the physical battles.
It’s not a perfect story. The bad guys haunt the background and aren’t as well fleshed out as I would have liked. There are also a few nitpicks I have on the tech side of things. None of that makes this a deal killer.
Verdict: If you’re a fan of cyberpunk (think Blade Runner, The Matrix, Akira) then this is definitely worth checking out. If you like fast paced action featuring a great female lead, but SF isn’t your thing, I still think it’s a risk worth taking.