Reviewed by Stewart Horn
Itâ€™s usually a positive thing if a story is difficult to categorise. Â This one is set in the future on another planet; only some of the characters are human; and thereâ€™s a scary supernatural beastie. Â At heart though, itâ€™s a noirish thriller, complete with kidnapping, assorted murders and a gruff but engaging first person narrator.
An ambassadorâ€™s child is kidnapped, and policeman Jerome is assigned to the investigation along with his career-driven female partner and a spook, an agent from Earth with apparently supernatural powers. Â Iâ€™m not telling you any more about the plot because I donâ€™t want to spoil it for you.
It takes both confidence and skill to mash up genres like this, and Ms. Paddock has pulled it off nicely. Â Itâ€™s competently set up in the first chapter, with further surprises along the way. Â The characters are well-drawn, and I enjoyed spending time with all of them. Â Her prose is classy and smooth and the unfolding of the plot is paced to keep us on our toes. Â The narration felt quite dry at first, but it fits the character.
My only complaint is that I wanted more. Â There are half a dozen good characters in here, two or three of whom are well fleshed out, but I really liked Jerome, Lamont, Sophie, Giselle, even Vincenzo. Â It felt like meeting some really cool people, having a brief chat about all the things you have in common, then never seeing them again. Â I wanted to relax a bit with Jerome and Val and find out about Lamontâ€™s home life. Â Â I wanted to get the feel of Ms. Paddockâ€™s world.
There is enough invention here to fill a novel, and it would be a more satisfying read at maybe three times its current length. Â It could even succeed as a series of novels, especially since the rules of her universe are so fluid.
An enjoyable taster, but Iâ€™m looking forward to reading the rest.