My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book was a good sequel to a good first book. It’s a hard boiled detective story set in the future on the planet of Legarto. Juno Mozambe, an ex-cop who was a dirty enforcer while he was on the force and who was the protagonist of the last novel, is back, now as a type of private eye. His young ex-partner, Maggie Orzo, is a detective trying to get a promotion. Her new partner, Ian, is a first rate asshole, and I mean mega-asshole. The weird thing about Ian is that just a couple of years ago, he was a puny, perpetually frightened boy working in the prison. Now he’s big and ripped and has an attitude. He’s taken over as alpha male in the department and he has a crew of cops willing to do anything he says. And he’s much dirtier than Juno ever was.
The book starts out with a murder. Apparently there’s a serial murderer on Legarto, but it’s not being publicized in the media. Only the cops know about it. And Juno. This first one (which is actually the 13th murder) takes place on a boat with flesh eating bacteria doing the job. Ian basically kicks Juno off the boat and things start. Another murder has also been committed. A couple were killed by a laser whip and their hot, young daughter has confessed and is scheduled to be executed in just a few days. The problem is, Maggie thinks she’s innocent. So she hires Juno to help her prove it.
Meanwhile, Juno has troubles at home. His wife tried to commit suicide and is locked up in a hospital bed, waiting for a new spine (she threw herself from a bridge) to be grown offworld and waiting for Juno to find the funds to pay for it. The problem is, she still wants to die.
As Juno starts poking around, he starts discovering inconsistencies. He goes to the prison to interview the girl and when he leaves, Ian and his crew show up and rough him up, breaking his fingers on one of his hands while telling him to mind his own business.
Ian has a hot girlfriend, Liz. Ian summons Juno to a bar where he waits to strike a deal with Juno to spy on Maggie in order to eliminate her promotion and get it himself. Juno agrees, but tells Maggie and doubles back on Ian, feeding him information that makes Ian think Juno’s doing a good job, but when in reality he and Maggie are working against Ian.
An offworlder named Horst is also involved. He runs a travel agency on Legarto, seemingly for tiger hunts, but in reality, for sex. Oh, and snuff films. And getting to participate in making the snuff films by executing prisoners on death row privately. It’s pretty sick and the author does a good job at getting it across to the reader. Indeed, there’s lots of sick stuff in this book — the kinky sex, prostitution, snuff films, incest, and more. It’s easy to get grossed out. You have to have a hard stomach in order to read this book. It’s gritty and it seems realistic — the author is very good.
As Juno and Maggie race against time to get Ian and save the girl, things are happening frantically and you have to really keep pace. It’s a real page turner and, as a result, a quick read. My only complaint — and it’s a big one for which I thought about eliminating one of the five stars I’m’ giving it — is that big, bad Juno-the-enforcer from the first book becomes a weak, pathetic pussy in this book, easily pushed around by Ian and his crew. It’s kind of hard to believe. Juno toughens up as the book progresses, but I found it hard to swallow. Still, I enjoyed the book. Apparently there’s a third one in the series and I’ll have to get it to read. If it’s like the first two, I’ll definitely enjoy it. Recommended, but not for the faint of heart.