Reviewed by Stewart Horn
It’s usually a positive thing if a story is difficult to categorise. This one is set in the future on another planet; only some of the characters are human; and there’s a scary supernatural beastie. At heart though, it’s a noirish thriller, complete with kidnapping, assorted murders and a gruff but engaging first person narrator.
An ambassador’s child is kidnapped, and policeman Jerome is assigned to the investigation along with his career-driven female partner and a spook, an agent from Earth with apparently supernatural powers. I’m not telling you any more about the plot because I don’t want to spoil it for you.
It takes both confidence and skill to mash up genres like this, and Ms. Paddock has pulled it off nicely. It’s competently set up in the first chapter, with further surprises along the way. The characters are well-drawn, and I enjoyed spending time with all of them. Her prose is classy and smooth and the unfolding of the plot is paced to keep us on our toes. The narration felt quite dry at first, but it fits the character.
My only complaint is that I wanted more. There are half a dozen good characters in here, two or three of whom are well fleshed out, but I really liked Jerome, Lamont, Sophie, Giselle, even Vincenzo. It felt like meeting some really cool people, having a brief chat about all the things you have in common, then never seeing them again. I wanted to relax a bit with Jerome and Val and find out about Lamont’s home life. I wanted to get the feel of Ms. Paddock’s world.
There is enough invention here to fill a novel, and it would be a more satisfying read at maybe three times its current length. It could even succeed as a series of novels, especially since the rules of her universe are so fluid.
An enjoyable taster, but I’m looking forward to reading the rest.