Published by Crown/Archetype on January 14th 2014
Genres: Dystopian, Fiction, General, Hard-Boiled, Mystery & Detective, Thrillers
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange honest review consideration. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
The futuristic hardboiled noir that Lauren Beukes calls “sharp as a paper-cut” about a garbage man turned kill-for-hire. Spademan used to be a garbage man. That was before the dirty bomb hit Times Square, before his wife was killed, and before the city became a blown-out shell of its former self. Now he’s a hitman. In a near-future New York City split between those who are wealthy enough to “tap in” to a sophisticated virtual reality, and those who are left to fend for themselves in the ravaged streets, Spademan chose the streets. When his latest client hires him to kill the daughter of a powerful evangelist, he must navigate between these two worlds—the wasteland reality and the slick fantasy—to finish his job, clear his conscience, and make sure he’s not the one who winds up in the ground.
This is a weird blend of genres and writing style. It works out okay though. It reminds me of a little bit of Chuck Palahniuk with less interesting subject matter.
Stop. I have to be honest here. I’m having some difficulty writing this review because I did receive this book from the Blogging for Books program, which I joined in a knee-jerk reaction before combing through all of the copious fine print. I could write a post on this but Michelle at A Reader’s Respite has already done it quite eloquently. So for sure, go read that. This should not be held against the book. Now I’m going to try to start again with this review. (Another detour: Crown has responded and is attempting to make good. Who knows where we’ll be when this post actually goes live.)
Okay. So an interesting crime-noir piece, a little bit of a futuristic twist (with the technology to ‘tap in’ to virtual reality for some reason it reminded me of Life After Sleep) and the writing style reminded me of the wonderful Chuck P. it’s a little quirky, a little weird, and a whole lot of dark.
Shovel Ready touches on themes that I think still haunt America from 9/11. It does this by creating a world where a dirty bomb has basically turned Manhattan into a barren wasteland. There were times when I wanted to shake Spademan, our unlikely hero, and tell him to get out of himself – but overall he was tragic but generally likable, despite his questionable methods of making a living.
This is supposed to be the first in a series and I’ll be interested in seeing where Sternbergh takes it. I’d recommend this to people who like the crime-noir genre as a whole, but probably not those that are looking for a more dystopian feel in fiction – as the world-building is a little underdeveloped.
So, Reader. Read any good crime fiction lately? How ’bout them folks at Crown Publishing?