The first few pages of this book did not bode well, but after that it was superb. Witty, clever, part thriller, part SF, well written and characters that’ll leave you looking round your workplace and re-naming them.
One of the best things about this book is the pace. Not only does the main character run around like the proverbial blue arsed fly, she gets to see and take part in explosions, killings, fires, first aid and mass demonstrations.
So what’s it about? 300 pages give or take. Oh, you mean the story. Sorry.
Padma runs a distillery on a planet that’s so far off the beaten track it’s almost invisible. She used to be part of the intergalactic corporate machine (and has the tattoo on her cheek to prove it), but gave it up by breaching her contract and running away.
Here there is only one business: rum. There are thousands of acres of sugar cane, processing plants and distilleries, but Padma’s one produces the best. She inherited it from the previous owner and continues to make the rum in the same way, which is one reason it still has the same taste.
She also has ‘the fear’ lurking in her mind, a consequence of her time as part of the corporate world and long term hibernation.
Padma turns up to work one day, as normal, to find her smart mouthed foreman waiting for her, but no staff. They’ve all disappeared and gone somewhere else. Turns out there’s a revolution afoot and the distillery owners are going to bear the brunt of it. Not if Padma has her way.
Initial investigations into the whereabouts of her staff show that there’s a new church in town and it’s run by a man who should still be in jail. A man who tried to burn her alive and failed. Didn’t even singe her hair. Most of her staff are now members of this church and he’s preaching love and revolution by feeding people who go hungry.
She gets home for her 6 o’clock appointment with her fear only to find the head of the planet’s union in her flat, waiting to make an offer Padma can’t refuse. She tries to refuse then realises she can’t…especially when the union leader offers to wipe out her billion dollar debt. Initially only by 50 thousand, which is not much but is a declaration of intent.
From there it escalates badly. There are bombings, riots, murders and the villain is revealed. All the time Padma is snarking her way through the action, much like Raymond Chandler’s PIs do.
All in all, this is an excellent read, highly recommended and well worth your time.