Warren Hammond
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Buy *KOP* by Warren Hammond

Warren Hammond
336 pages
April 2008
rated 5 of 5 possible stars

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The year is 2787, the genre is hard-boiled detective story in an urban environment full of corruption. KOP is a very impressive debut novel.

Lagarto is a backward planet where most people are desperately poor. The powerful and rich on the planet are the leaders of the drug cartels, who run the whole place. Even the police are corrupt. Most of them get their money from protection rackets and extortion. Koba is Lagarto's capital and its largest city.

Juno Mozambe is an elderly cop on Lagarto and isn't an exception. In fact, he is the most trusted friend of the Chief of the Koba Office of Police Paul Chang, who does his best to run the corrupt system to his best advantage. Juno was Chang's enforcer for many years, until he couldn't do it anymore and downgraded himself to merely collecting protection money from drug dealers, pimps, and prostitutes.

Now Koba has gotten a new mayor, one who is trying to really fight crime starting with the city's corrupt Chief of Police. In a high profile case, a soldier is murdered next to a bordello, and the mayor wants to use this case to spearhead his fight against crime.

Chang needs Juno to investigate the murder and gives him a new partner: young, beautiful Maggie Orzo, a rookie and the daughter of an extremely wealthy family. Juno has been working solo for a long time and is not happy, but Chang is convinced that the mayor is somehow involved in the murder and intends to use Maggie to expose the mayor so that he can keep his own money and power. Juno's jealous wife, Niki, is not happy either; their marriage is already on shaky ground.

Chang and Juno's moral descent from eager, young cops and Juno's affair with a drug dealer's daughter is seen in flash-back chapters, giving solid background to the characters and to the setting as well.

Kobe is not a pleasant place. It is filled with desperate people who do what they have to in order to survive. Most people cannot afford to have high technology; most of them cannot even afford to have a car. Even the police have to steal higher technology for their use, because the office cannot afford them.

The atmosphere of despair in which people still try their best to live is done wonderfully and is somewhat similar in tone to BladeRunner. The offworlders have exotic high technology, and even the Lagartans have holographic phones, but the technology is far from being the main point is of the story: the convincing characters and intense narrative are.

Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at www.curledup.com. Mervi Hamalainen, 2007

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