Author: K.R. Richardson
Publisher: Pyr/Prometheus Books
Genre: Science Fiction/Mystery
Unique Elements: Augmented alien detective and his biologically privileged human aid solve crimes on the dark world of Gattis.
Series: Gattis Files
Release Date: May 8, 2018
Number of Page: 496 pages
MSRP: $18 Trade Paperback/$9.99 ebook
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Reviewed by: J.T. Hanke
Final Score: 4.5 Moons (out of 5)
When a rookie cop named Eric Matheson shows up on the corporately held world of Gattis, he wanders into a brutal slaughter that could destroy two of the three native races of Gattis if its mysterious circumstances aren’t solved in a single week.
To prevent a corporately motivated genocide, he’s forced to team up with a cybernetically enhanced investigator named Inspector J.P. Dillal. Unfortunately, his native birth and unholy technology make Dillal a pariah to the non-enhanced off-worlders in the police force, while his mixed racial background make him an outcast to the native populations.
Dillal’s stubbornly streak and unlikely birth make him the only person who can absorb these new cybernetic enhancements and, not only live, but use them at an even more impressive level than their creators’ imagined.
This unlikely pair will have to fight back not only a brutal corporation but an ever simmering race war that is always a hairs breadth from erupting as they follow the clues to try and uncover who the actual perpetrators are in time.
If you took the chracter of Sherlock Holmes and fused it with the world of Bladerunner, you’ll get a general feeling for the feel and flow of Blood Orbit.
While it’s a fairly slow burn of a novel to start with, as it builds steam, you really find yourself compelled to keep reading to figure out what comes next, finding it harder and harder to put down (even when you really need sleep). The feeling of detective noir from films in the ’30’s are captured starkly in this futuristic dystopian tale, including the concept of the perpetually battered, bleeding, and exhausted protagonist.
The conclusion works nicely, setting up interesting obstacles for future novels, while nicely wrapping up this one. These sorts of scenarios are ones that Richardson prefers and which work increasingly well in dark detective tales.
For the purposes of interpersonal dynamics, it’s easiest to use the archetype of Sherlock Holmes, with Dillal serving the role of Holmes while Matheson stands in admirably for Watson. While there are a lot more of the internal police politics that both men are forced to deal with than Holmes or Watson did, the similarities in style and thought are unmistakable.
With that said, Richardson is able to give them more complicated backstories that really add to the richness of their characters. Dillal’s mixed racial background creates a scenario where he’s openly hated by one side of his family and barely “put up with” by the other side of his family. Meanwhile, in the case of Matheson, being the inheritor of a corporate legacy he’s ashamed of makes his desire to make his way on his own challenging and full of potential land mines.
A noir sci-fi mystery that deals with two despised outsiders forced to work together to save the downtrodden and uncover the truth, no matter how hideous, is pretty Gothic in my book. (Plus the use of this background and backdrop to ask pointed questions about our own world further makes this a book you won’t want to miss!)
While this would appear to be the first novel by this author, the fact that the bio reveals that “Richardson is a bestselling Washington-based writer” shows that this is not his or her’s first rodeo. (I personally do know this author’s back catalog and it’s quite impressive, but they’re turning a new corner in their career and would like to be judged on the merits of their new work, which I respect greatly.) Regardless of what they’ve written in the past, this book is well worth a read in its own rights if you like dark mysteries and exploration of what political and economic questions really motivate our societies.
Story: 4.0 Moons (out of 5.0)
Dynamics: 5.0 Moons (out of 5.0)
Gothic Fit: 4.5 Moons (out of 5.0)
Final Score (not an average): 4.5 Moons (out of 5.0)