If you like your science fiction dystopian, full of action and tension with a deeply flawed character, then Somers is your man and Avery Cates your ideal protagonist.
After surviving the worst bioengineered disaster in history, Cates finds himself incarcerated – in Chengara Penitentiary. As Chengara has a survival rate of exactly zero, the System’s most famous gunner must do some serious plotting. And a betrayal or so later, he achieves his goal. At a price. All he has to do next is defeat some new personal demons, forge some unlikely alliances, and figure out why the people he’s killed lately just won’t stay dead. Plus pull off the biggest assassination of his career…
Imagine everything going to Hell in a handcart, with a foul-mouthed John McCain-type character of Diehard fame – and you get a sense of what Somers’ world is all about. Cates is definitely a thug and murderer, but he has a sparky gallows humour that meant despite doing some horrible things, I always wanted him to prevail. This is a big deal – I’m not a huge fan of cover-to-cover gore, but somehow Somers’ tone and excellent writing won me over. If you enjoy Richard Morgan and haven’t yet come across Somers, then check him out – he is every bit as readable as Morgan, in my opinion.
I also enjoyed the range of other characters that Cates encounters – they necessarily tend to be hard cases, as Cates doesn’t move in the sort of circles that mixes with respectable middle-class nonentities. In this world, they’re probably all dead… But this selection of characters are an intriguing lot – particularly the villains. I particularly like Michaleen, the indomitable little man who somehow has managed to survive the horrors of Chengara longer than anyone else. Not because he’s at all pleasant – but despite the foul language and violence, he has charm. Almost as much charm as Cates, himself.
As the plot whips along at breakneck speed, Somers introduces plenty of plot twists calculated to keep readers turning the pages. Which I did – despite this being the third book in the series, at no time was I floundering or adrift, though I was aware there was a long, interesting back story to this slice of Cates’ adventures.
I’ll confess to picking this book up, half expecting that I would be abandoning it after a couple of chapters. I didn’t. Instead, I thoroughly enjoyed it – and would recommend it for those adrenaline junkies among you. This combat-packed, gore splattered thriller is a cut above many in the genre, thanks to Somers’ strong writing.