Monday, February 09, 2015

Deadeye - William C. Dietz

The Mutant Files, Book 1
William C. Dietz
In post-plague Los Angeles, the face of crime may have changed, but there are still people dedicated to stopping it.  The plague happened in 2038, before Cassandra Lee was born.  She followed in her father’s footsteps and joined the police force.  Now she’s part of the elite Special Investigative Section, charged with tracking down the worst of the worst.  The plague, started by an act of bio-terrorism, has effectively separated humanity.   At the time, millions died.  Those who contracted the plague but survived were mutated in various ways.  Some of them are still carriers.  The norms and the mutants live apart, in newly-defined territories.  Since there’s no way to identity a carrier, when the populations must interact, they use specialized face masks and nose filters.
The new landscape of society has given rise to new hate groups – or old hate groups with new targets.  The Church Of Human Purity is dedicated to making sure than norms and mutants remain forever separated.  Bishop Screed has built an empire on the idea.  His great wealth gives him influence in the city.  When his daughter, Amanda, is kidnapped off the street, he puts pressure on the mayor and the police force.  Lee knows that mutant groups do kidnap norm women for use in creating norm (or norm-appearing) offspring.  That means that Amanda will have been removed from Los Angeles and taken into the red zone.  At best.
A norm in the red zone is an anomaly.  The mutants aren’t going to be likely to cooperate with Lee.  To that end, Lee now has a new partner: Deputy Ras Omo.  As a mutant, Omo will be able to talk to people Lee wouldn’t.  He knows the red zone and how to get around in it.  Lee is less than interested in working with a partner, but recognizes the necessity.  To Lee, finding the girl means time taken away from her obsession: finding a serial killer who specializes in cops.  He’s known as the Bonebreaker, and Lee is determined to find him, even though she’s not technically on the case.  She’s too close to it.  The Bonebreaker killed Lee’s father.

This is the first volume in a great new series.  The world-building is impeccable.  The Los Angeles here is still recognizable, but it’s clearly been altered in fundamental ways.  It’s now part of a state known as Pacifica.  To the east, starting roughly at Arizona, is the Republic of Texas, run by mutants.  The red zone is located in between the two.  Each location is a function of the individuals who live there.  It all fits together and it all makes sense.

The story unfolds in layers.  There are some great subplots that give the story and the world depth.  Lee is known as a loner who isn’t much liked, but is very well-respected for her ability to get results.  She closes cases.  Not always by arrests, but she closes them.  Most of the story is told from her point of view, but every once in a while, we get a bit of someone else’s.  It’s a great technique that gives the reader a glimpse into the inner minds and motivations of others.  It provides a richer and more complex view of this world. 

This novel is a great intro for someone unsure about “scifi” in general.  This story is driven by the characters.  Lee and Omo are both carefully drawn individuals.  They each have a history, a career, a family, a past.  The setting may be futuristic, but anyone who loves a good story, a good mystery, a good chase, will enjoy this novel.  The mystery plot is solid, there’s enough action to satisfy readers coming from the author’s military scifi novels, and the characters are realistic.  The author ties up the main story here, but leaves some very interesting loose ends for future novels.  I’m very much looking forward to them.

Rating: 8
February 2015
ISBN# 978-0-425-27333-3 (paperback)


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