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West End Droids and East End Dames by Brian Parker (Easytown novels #3)

Write on: Wed, 20 Sep 2017 by  in Charles' Reviews Be the first to comment! Read 1388

4/5

The Easytown series by Brian Parker is one of the most underrated cyberpunk series presently in production. Cyberpunk hit its heyday in the late 80s/early 90s with William Gibson popularizing the genre with Neuromancer before the Matrix sequels effectively killed it. Actually, I have another theory that technology, the internet, black hat hackers, corporate control, government surveillance, and tranhumanism made the subject no longer science fiction but just an accurate description of 21st century life.

The Easytown novels don't take place in the present or even an expected future but in a somewhat bizarre retro-future 1940s or 1950s. It is a society where you can have sex with robots in brothels, cyborgs are threatening cops, and there's a murder tourism industry involving clones. However, it's also a place where social conservatism means sex is dirty and under the table. People are constantly under scrutiny for even the most trivial of offenses and the cops casually engage in police brutality as long as it's against the poor or minorities. Okay, some of the world is the same as it is today.

The premise is Homicide Detective Zach Forrest is either the best detective in New Orleans circa 2077 or the worst. He's a casual habitual violator of civil liberties but he's alone in not being racist or prejudiced against minorities even if his tolerance for the criminals in town hovers somewhere between Dirty Harry and Frank Castle. The big difference is he's not afraid to go after corporate, technologically savvy, or politically connected criminals. It is this habit of his, more than his ruthlessness, which has made him a man with a countdown for a career.

West End Droids and East End Dames makes it clear, early on, Zach's time with the NOPD is coming to an end. Despite such comic book heroics as saving the Pope and stopping a City Hall connected murder and blackmail scheme, or perhaps because of it, he's offended too many people to be allowed to continue. Early in the book, we find out this extends to entrapment from Internal Affairs and probably outright plans to frame him if they can't get him legally.

The criminals this time around are a ring of drug dealers selling cybernetic parts and the drugs to maintain them. They're actually fairly minor characters as they're not the real threat to Zach Forrest's career. He's attempting to take them down as "one last job" but it's the fire from his own side which is the real threat. Ultimately, I think it would have been nice to have them be better and more threatening opponents but there's still some good characters. You can tell just how much of a crapsack world this is as a local hitman confesses to murdering forty people and the police just go, "yeah, that's a bit excessive but sounds about right."

Is this my favorite of the Easytown novels? No, I can't say it is. It's still quite good but it doesn't have quite the same pizzaz or over-the-top nature as its predecessors. Nevertheless, I'm going to say it's mostly a matter of degrees rather than miles. The series really captures its noir feeling well and there's some stand-out moments throughout. One of my favorite is when Zac, for once, tries to take a perp alive and ends up electrocuting him on national television. That shouldn't be hilarious but it really is given Zach's bad luck with doing things the soft way.

A decent portion of the book is devoted to Zach's love life and the sudden implosion of his relationship with waitress Teagan despite the fact it had been built up across three books. I wasn't too fond of this despite the fact I never much liked Teagan. I was interested in his new love interest, though, as well as the idea his Siri-like A.I. companion Andi was starting to fall for him. I fully expect more development along those lines in the fourth book.

In conclusion, I strongly recommend this book and hope Brian Parker continues his write up of the seedy underbelly of the technologically advanced world he's created. There's good action, snark, and twists with a killer ending. I think the developments in Frank's life will lead to new storytelling opportunities and it should be interesting to see how they work out.

Last modified on Wednesday, 20 September 2017 22:13
Charles Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.

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