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Great North Road Hardcover – January 1, 2013
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This month's Book With Buzz: "Little Fires Everywhere" by Celeste Ng
From the bestselling author of Everything I Never Told You, a riveting novel that traces the intertwined fates of the picture - perfect Richardson family and the enigmatic mother and daughter who upend their lives. See more
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Hamilton's stand-alone near-future mystery is a mesmerizing page-turner whose pace never lags despite the book's substantial length. In 2143, Newcastle police detective Sidney Hurst realizes that a naked corpse dragged from the river was a member of the North family. Clones Augustine, Bartram, and Constantine North founded a company that invested in trans-spatial connection, a technology that opened gateways to other star systems and expanded humanity's access to energy and living space. They cloned themselves in turn, by the hundreds. The wounds on the dead North, whose exact identity is vexingly hard to pin down, match those on Bartram's body after he and his household were slaughtered in 2121—and Angela Tramelo, convicted of those murders, always claimed that an alien monster was the real culprit. The intense whodunit plot and the sustained ambiguity about Tramelo's innocence or guilt are enhanced by plausible extrapolations of 22nd-century human cultures. Agent: James MacDonald Lockhart, Antony Harwood Ltd. (Jan.)
*Starred Review* Hamilton, the increasingly popular British science-fiction writer, tends to write long, but he also writes well. Someone else might have told this story in half the space, but it probably wouldn’t have been nearly as good. The story is simple enough: in the year 2143, a man is murdered, and Sidney Hurst, the detective assigned to the case, must wade through the evidence to find the culprit. Well, wade isn’t exactly the word, because the evidence is pretty sparse. Physical traces of the murderer are virtually nonexistent, the scene of the crime is unknown (the body was dumped), and even the victim’s identity is a mystery. Hurst knows the dead man is a North, a member of an extended family of clones, but nobody seems to be able to figure out which of the many hundreds of Norths he might be. Oh, and there’s also the tantalizing possibility that the unknown killer might be the same creature that slaughtered another North and 13 other people two decades ago. And that’s just the setup of this epic-size SF mystery (which morphs, the deeper you go into the story, into something else entirely). The author’s rapidly growing legion of fans will flock to this new title, and readers unfamiliar with Hamilton’s brand of SF should be steered in its direction. It’s a perfect introduction to his gifts for character design, dialogue, and sheer, big-idea-driven storytelling. --David Pitt
Top customer reviews
Overall some excellent dialogue, steady story progression and again the internal dialogue of Syd the detective.
I like stories with future technology but not when these must be described and explained in detail. It's totally unrealistic. Do we say to each other, "I gave my son an IPAD, you know that powerful device that allows you to surf the web, play games or do office work, is 11 x 8, weighs 1.2 pounds and uses a rechargeable lithium battery"? No, we say, "I got Billy an IPAD." It's a case of either letting the story do the talking or painfully explaining each new wonder.
And it's all so...unreal. I'm not predicting a dystopia but I doubt it will be the benevolent, Star Trek-like society depicted here. The idea that humans will no longer judge by appearance is absurd. Long ago we lost our evolutionary senses of smell and hearing and since have increasingly become a visual species. To suggest we will morph into something different is kaka. The "religion" present here is also in the Star Trek tradition - interesting tidbits for others. This society reminded me of the vision of someone who spends their time on the net where people present themselves in the manner they think others are expecting.
There is a lot of good this book has going for it. Tons of sci-fi elements, great suspense, murder mysteries, revenge plots, aliens, it's really packed full. In the end, the story itself is pretty great, and I don't regret reading it. The story centers around two people: Sid Hurst, a detective brought in from suspension (for what is never explained) to get dropped smack dab into a high profile murder case, and Angela Tramello, a woman accused of a similar murder 20 years ago, now vindicated, since she was in jail when the most recent murder occurred. The plot hinges on whether or not the "alien monster" she testified she'd seen is actually real, and a threat to humanity. Pretty great set-up. It kept me interested... for the most part.
My one HUGE massive gripe with this book is that more than half of it was comprised of completely redundant, uselessly detailed information dumps that did absolutely nothing except bog down the plot. I read through it for the first 25% and then got tired of it. Because I made a promise, I kept reading, but for every 10 pages I read on my Kindle, I skipped 4-6 pages of just technical descriptions to get to what was actually happening, and didn't miss a thing. I can understand that sort of detail in world building at the start of a book, but this was throughout the entire thing. Page after page of descriptions of every single piece of machinery (of which there were a LOT) and how they worked, and how they'd been used in the past, and what upgrades had been done to it since, when a paragraph would do. More pages of descriptions of weather conditions, how they changed, what they did to the landscape, and what effect it was having on people. I actually enjoyed the story a lot more when I skipped those parts.
Again, I don't regret reading it, but it's highly unlikely I would ever read it again. Read this one for the great prose and excellent wordsmithing, but be prepared for a plot that doesn't pick up decent pace until about three quarters of the way through.