Sunday, November 2, 2014

Book Review- Streets of Payne by Jeff Brackett


Trying to get to the bottom of a missing person's case is all in a day's work for Detective Amber Payne. She and her partner, Kevin Glass, didn't expect anything odd from this contract. But when they discover the missing person kidnapped himself, it leads them down a road of questions. Why did he want to go missing? What's this super-secret project he was working on?

And why is the result of that project suddenly in Kevin's head and screaming to get out?

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from

Detective Amber Payne and her partner Kevin Glass must solve a case of corporate espionage that quickly turns into a fight for survival in a world where cybernetic implants are commonplace, cyberspace is a realm of its own, and no one is what they appear to be.


It's never really clear just what year Streets of Payne is set in, but that's not a big deal concerning the plot. It's a futuristic/cyberpunk world, not too distant from our own, and that's enough for me. There are hints at elemnts of life from the here and now, with some tweaks- Chocaffeine, for example, which I picture as a mass-produced mocha latte, maybe, and Plasteel, a building material. The important thing with this is that none of it is odd or out of place for Amber. It's her world, and she's comfortable in it. That helps the reader immediately be comfortable and take new elements in stride, accepting them as normal at the same time as absorbing it and reveling in its newness.


Brackett has a semi-simplistic writing style that gets ideas across without words getting in the way. He's descriptive without being flowery, informative without being pedantic. It's a wonderful style to read (or in my case, listen to), that lets the reader focus on the story rather than how it's told. He's unobtrusive, but on those occasions that I actually focused on the words themselves, I got a pleasure in listening to them one by one. He has a rhythm and flow to his writing that is very pleasant.

My Thoughts

I don't read a lot of cyberpunk, but that isn't because I don't like it. I do enjoy the genre, especially when they're written like Brackett wrote Streets of Payne. There's enough of the world outside of computers and enough inside the technical world to keep things technological without going over the head of someone who's semi-techno-fluent, like me. It's easy enough to follow along with the jargon, especially since there's a lot that's explained-- but many explanations came far enough after the introduction of the concept that I had a chance to guess at what it was. Inferring the meaning of a lot of these made the book semi-interactive, and it's pretty easy to guess what you're looking at, so it feels good to have it confirmed later.

Plotwise, this was a very tightly-told story. Threads stuck out from the central ball and then turned and wove back in, thickening the mess Amber and Kevin had to sort through. it was very well done and logical, perfect for the world Brackett set up. The whole thing was highly satisfying.

Would I Recommend This Book?  I certainly would! If you're a cyberpunk or even a detective mystery fan, this is definitely a book for you. Brackett's characterization is spot-on, his setting is excellent and compelling, and the plot is a tangled mess it's fun to unravel. I give Streets of Payne a modified 4 of 5 stars.

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