Friday, January 25, 2008

BOOK: Halting State

A staccato, rough-edged crime novel with a thick cybernoir patina. Charles Stross conjures up a near-future amalgam of social networking, Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games, international hacking syndicates, and thick Scottish brogues.

Set in Edinburgh, Scotland, the story swirls around Sue Smith (a Sargent in the local PD,) Elaine Barnaby (forensic accountant,) Jack Reed (MMORPG programmer) and their efforts to thwart the machinations of an online gang of villains who have somehow plundered an online bank within a newly minted MMORPG.

His quick, smarmy prose is steeped in ultra modern language, seemingly ripped from any contemporary online forum or newsgroup. And his first person point of view only heightens the story's pace. The characters, the technology, the accents, and the slang. They all came together like old friends and furthered my enjoyment of the novel.

To say more would ruin its potency for any would-be readers, so I'll refrain from any other potential spoilers.

Previously, I'd never read anything from Charles Stross, but I'm planning to pick up more of his novels. (Seems he's written around a dozen!) A good read. Seasoned with detective work. Lightly humorous. Tastefully futurismic. The end game blurred by a bit rapidly for my liking, but easily one of the better novels I've read in the last year. Highly enjoyed. Highly recommended.

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