Murder on the Mean Streets of Mars
Robert J. Sawyer
ACE April, 2013
Review by Ann Wilkes
This is the best book I've read for months! Maybe years! What's not to love? You have the Frontier (Mars), the Gold Rush (only it's a fossil rush), a Chandler-like, witty detective, extreme conditions (no atmosphere outside the dome) and cyborgs! Did I mention the body doubles and mind swapping? This book has everything! I couldn't put it down.
The detective, Alex Lomax, is even a fan of classic movies from the forties! He's rough around the edges with questionable morals, kind of like Bogart in those movies of old, with the same soft spot for the women and the underdogs.
Diana was standing in her topless splendor next to the bar, loading up her tray. "Hey Diana," I said, when you get off tonight, how 'bout you and me go out and paint the town . . . " I trailed off: the town was already red; the whole damned planet was.
Diana's face lit up, but Buttrick raised a beefy hand. "Not so fast, lover boy. If you've got the money to take her out, you've got the money to settle your tab."
I slipped two golden hundred-solar coins on the countertop. "That should cover it." Buttrick's eyes went as round as the coins, and he scooped them up immediately, as if he were afraid they'd disappear--which, in this joint, they probably would.
The technology and the ways it is abused raise some very interesting questions, like where does our soul live? Do we have one and does it survive our body and live on in a download of our brain? What rights does an unauthorized cyborg have? Will a duplicate be able to think any differently than the original? Does immortality get boring? What upgrades would I get? I love books that make me think, and Robert Sawyer certainly churns out a lot of them.
This is the first book I've read by this author in which the mystery is the heart of the tale and he has mastered that genre neatly, while never straying from science fiction. The mystery involved so many reversals and plot twists which I totally didn't see coming that it kept me guessing throughout.
Read two interviews, one in 2009 and one in 2011 with Rob by yours truly, right here on Science Fiction and Other ODDysseys. The 2011 interview includes a review of www.Wonder.