Sunday, December 6, 2009

Review: HALFHEAD - Stuart MacBride

They're called Halfheads. They are the convicted violent criminals of society: the murderers and rapists. They are lobotomised and surgically mutilated ("halfheaded") and sent to do society's most menial tasks. If you're convicted and sentenced to halfheading there's no way back for you. No one notices halfheads. The are little more than sexless zombies, incapable of independent thought.

Will Hunter is a high ranking officer with the tech-crimes and police actions unit. Part of their job is investigating murders. Will and his team are called out to a particularly grisly murder scene in one of Gaslgow's vast connurb blocks. When more than a quarter of a million people are crammed into a vast high rise complex in one of the most deprived areas of the city, is it any wonder things can and do explode?

However, there's more to this murder than meets the eye and Will's determination to find out what is really going on despite orders to the contrary lead him to a very dark conspiracy.

MacBride's vision of the future is a dystopian nightmare. It seems to be a combination the worst of Soviet Union dysfunction and a high technology, uncaring big-brother state. And it is a totally compelling one.

Make no mistake, HALFHEAD is very violent and bloody, but MacBride's ability to create characters with both humanity and humour transcend the bleakness of the violence.

If the book has a flaw it is that in the latter stages, Will and his team seem to get bogged down in hunting for a killer who is right under their noses all the time.

Despite that I found HALFHEAD very difficult to put down. The imagery of the halfheads will haunt me for quite some time I imagine.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A novel idea for a novel.

Australian crime fiction writerP .D Martin has come up with a good idea for a new novel. This one is audience participation.

Phillipa is writing a new Sophie Anderson book but what she's doing this time is asking the readers what they'd like to see happen next. She gives a number of options and then readers vote - the one with the most votes wins. At the end of the exercise the book will be made available as a free download e-book.

You can follow what's happening and have your say in what happens next.