I loved the cover of this one and then the quirky blurb… I have a fondness for sci fi murder mysteries and having inhaled detective noir novels from the likes of Raymond Chandler far too long ago, I’ve a fondness for those, too. Would this one live up to my expectations?
BLURB: It’s 2032 and we live in the worst cyberpunk future. Kiera is gigging her ass off to keep the lights on, but her polycule’s social score is so dismal they’re about to lose their crib. That’s why she’s out here chasing cheaters with Angel Herrera, a luddite P.I. who thinks this is The Big Sleep. Then the latest job cuts too deep—hired to locate Herrera’s ex-best friend (who’s also Kiera’s pro bono attorney), they find him murdered instead. Their only lead: a stick of Nag Champa incense dropped at the scene.
Next thing Kiera knows, her new crush turns up missing—sans a hand (the real one, not the cybernetic), and there’s the familiar stink of sandalwood across the apartment. Two crimes, two sticks of incense, Kiera framed for both. She told Herrera to lose her number, but now the old man might be her only way out of this bullshit…
REVIEW: It’s extremely difficult to write near future convincingly or well. But Wood makes a very good stab at it. I loved the dystopian feel of the world, which has clearly gone to hell in a handcart frighteningly fast. But the grittiness of the daily grind and trying to make ends meet was overlaid by Kiera’s touchingly vulnerable character. I could see why Herrera tends to act like a parent towards her.
The relationship between the pair is often the narrative engine that powers this exuberant read, so it’s important that I cared about what happens to both of them. And I did. I liked the fact that everyone introduced themselves alongside their preferred pronouns – it certainly rings true when I listen to what matters to my grandson and his friends. I also enjoyed the nuances around sexual relationships, from the sleazy and abusive right through to sweet cuddles and kisses. Not that a great deal of emphasis is particularly placed upon the range of sexuality – but it twines through and around the story as part of the worldbuilding. Like the odd fusion of foods and emphasis on cheap fast foods, which always seem to be the staple of private investigators in this genre.
I thoroughly enjoyed the worldbuilding. It’s particularly important in this sub-genre as it also provides the mood music by setting the overall tone of narrative. While the story is peppered with tragic deaths that matter to at least one of the protagonists and there is a fair amount of violence throughout – this isn’t a grim read. There’s too much snark and humour, especially between Kiera and Angel. Though I also enjoyed much of repartee aimed at Detective Flynn. Overall, this is a boisterous book, full of energy that pings off the page and took me with it. I’d love to read another book in this world – there’s plenty of mileage in the characters and I highly recommend this one for fans of futuristic detective noir in a cyberpunk setting. While I obtained an arc of Bang Bang Bodhisattva from the publishers via Netgalley, the opinions I have expressed are unbiased and my own.