Release Date: May 8, 2017
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Word Count: 56000
Sex Content: N/A
RATING: 4.5 stars
When I was studying English Extension as a Year 12 student, we spent the year focused on a genre study of crime fiction. One of our set texts was Marele Day's The Life and Crimes of Harry Lavender, a gritty urban crime fiction written in a very traditional style, but with a unique (for the time) female protagonist. The reason I bring this up, is that I couldn't help thinking about that book quite a lot whilst I was reading ADDICT. You need to ignore the GoodReads ratings of Day's book, because it's been skewed heavily by resentful teenagers who were tired of the book after studying it. It's dated now (over 30 years later), but Harry Lavender infused pre-WWII crime fiction conventions with fresh, contemporary elements of gender, as well as a real sense of place, with the city of Sydney treated as a character in its own right.
Matt Doyle's ADDICT, though a rather different beast from Harry Lavender, is intelligent and fresh in much the same way Day's book was in the late 80s. A crime is committed and, of course, as time goes on, our detective is led through a series of twists and turns to finally lead her to a thrilling conclusion, where all the puzzle pieces fall into place - a satisfying conclusion is provided, as you'd expect from a detective story.
Set in the near future, Addict combines the engrossing, tenebrous elements of 1930s noir crime fiction with the spectacle and possibility of science fiction. Cassie Tam is, in many ways, a traditional sleuth protagonist, right down to the glock, the dingy apartment, and the social isolation. But Cassie also has a metallic gargoyle as her security guard, and has to delve into the nefarious world of technology addiction as a means to solve the case at the heart of the story. Her client also happens to be a Tech Shifter, someone who uses specially designed machinery to transform into an animal as a form of escapism. Cool, right?
The characters are engaging and memorable, slowly building relationships and inviting us into their psyches. Given this is the first story of a series, the characterisation has been handled well. There's a sweet romance developing by the end of the book, but it hasn't been explored so much as to make subsequent books almost pointless, Doyle has left space to move with the romance -- a wise move, I think!
Setting and atmosphere are amongst the strongest elements of ADDICT. By the end of the novel, I felt connected to the city of New Hopeland. I understood its history, its evolution, and its almost fetishist underbelly, where even crime is driven by zealotry. I'd have no reservations recommending this book!
You can buy an ecopy here, and a paperback here.