Friday, September 15, 2017

West End Droids and East End Dames review

    The Easytown series by Brian Parker is one of my favorite cyberpunk series. Brian Parker has created a real winner in a story which chronicles the adventures of Zach Forest, homicide detective as he patrols the seedy beat of Easytown. The beat has made him hard and ruthless but he was always that way to begin with.

    Easytown is, essentially the resurrected Storyville of New Orleans and serves as the city's red light district. Except, instead of flesh-and-blood prostitutes--they have androids and clones serving their patron's tastes. Despite this improvement, the place is incredibly seedy and full of violence. Honestly, we don't spend enough time there and I would have liked to have seen Zach visit a few more of the town's places of ill-repute.

    The previous two books established a duality with Zach. He's an excellent detective and extremely good at bringing the bad guys in but comes from the Dirty Harry school of police officers. He beats suspects, shoots to kill, is rude to everyone, and is pretty much a dozen police brutality cases waiting to happen. Unlike many real-life offers with such problems, though, he's interested in protecting the rights of those on his beat rather than the people he goes after. Indeed, he's more often likely to end up going after the rich and powerful versus the poor.

    Unfortunately, living life like that means Zach is destined to lose his job and even knows it. Not even saving the Pope's life and stopping a cartel of serial killers is enough to keep him on the force much longer. Indeed, he's made so many enemies, you can imagine both sides are sick of it as he continues to coast along thanks to his big wins but never enough to secure his position. Much of the book is devoted to the cause of the buck stopping in his ability to continue like this.

    For better or worse, the villains are far less impressive this time around. A drug syndicate is using cyborgs to menace the people of Easytown but their boss has far less menace than the bad guys previously. The real villains are the people in City Hall who are looking for any excuse, or are actively contriving to make one, in order to bring Zach down.

    The book dumps the character of Teagan, the young waitress who loved Zach for the first two books, rather unceremoniously. Zach is no stranger to failed relationships but I felt this deserved a follow-up conversation between the two. I will say, though, I'm intrigued by the fact Zach's Siri-like A.I. companion Andi is interested in him now. The fact he no longer has to deal with the department's "Immorality Clause" about sleeping with robots is also interesting.

    The action is good, the world building is well done, and the characters are likable. This isn't my favorite of the Easytown novels but it's still a book I'm glad I read. I can't wait for the next one in the series.


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