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The House of the Rising Gun (Easytown #4) by Brian Parker Book Review

Write on: Fri, 06 Aug 2021 by  in Charles' Reviews Read 483

4/5

THE HOUSE OF THE RISING GUN by Brian Parker is the fourth installment of the Easytown series that I an exceptionally fond of. The premise is in the near-future, New Orleans has regained its reputation as a place of debauchery with a cyberpunk twist. If you want to be robot, cyborg, or human prostitutes then this is the place for it. Designer drugs and virtual reality fantasies are alongside the more traditional stuff. Detective Zach Forrest has Easytown as his beat and struggles to stay ahead of the high tech crimes he often finds himself dealing with.

Combining noir and cyberpunk has been a tradition since the very beginning with Zach being the sort of detective that would have been at home in the 1930s if not for the fact he has an AI secretary. He even lampshades it once when he realizes wearing a fedora might be a bridge too far into the shoes of his forebearers. Personally, the grit and sleaze combined with fantastic advances is handled with a subtle enough touch that I think it works great as a combination.

The premise of this book is that Zach has been hired to find a missing scientist who has seemingly run out on his wife. This quickly leads him to a new tourist trap in town run by Chinese immigrants, a corporation hoping to market a "happy" pill, and the usual mix of beautiful women as well as corrupt businessmen. Some guys just never catch a break. This particular one is of higher stakes than most of Zach's cases and would serve as an excellent finale to the series even if I hope Brian Parker continues.

The best parts of the story are Zach dealing with Novah, a beautiful corporate-employed prostitute that is constantly giving him the runaround. Novah is one of the best femme fatales in the series and has Zach constantly running in circles. I also like how Zach is adamant about not falling prey to her charms and does a decent job of sticking to this promise. We also find out that she's got one of the best strategies for screwing with Zach's usual investigative techniques: adamantly sticking to her story and not giving him an inch.

I also appreciate VirtuaPharm as a villain because the use of a legitimate corporation as a massive legal drug dealer is just correct social satire these days. The Opioid Epidemic has killed tens of thousands of people in my region (Appallachia) and the people responsible are untouchable because they bought off the politicians to make their product legal. Euphoria is also a drug that we can see would be highly popular even if it's terrible in its effects: no one cares about side effects if you can promise a good time.

Unfortunately, I do have some complaints. The Chinese conspiracy feels tonally out of place with the rest of the series and unnecessary when VirtuaPharm is already a superior antagonist. We also have a scene, at one point, where Zach leads an attack with Special Forces gynoids that feels like a level out of a video game. I prefer when Zach is investigations into corporate malfeasance and organized crime versus international conspiracies. I also didn't much care for the resolution of Zach's romantic life since it involves the return of my least favorite of his love interests.

In conclusion, this is still a pretty solid cyberpunk detective novel. Zach is a fun flawed character that has grown quite a bit since The Immorality Clause. I hope to see more books out in the series as there are few that manage to combine the genres so deftly. I only wish it had stuck a bit closer to the noir feel towards the end. Still, you can't be too hard on a series involving sex, drugs, droids, and rock and roll.

Available here

Last modified on Friday, 06 August 2021 16:34
C.T. 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.

Website: https://ctphipps.wordpress.com/