“The Immorality Clause” is written by Brian Parker and the audiobook’s narration was performed by Daniel Penz. Wow, let me start this review by saying that if you are at all a fan of great science fiction noir (not recommended for younger audiences) and you have not yet picked up and listened to this book, go do so now; you will not be dissatisfied. I was not sure based on the author’s description how this book would handle some of the subject matter, but between the exceptional writing style and the superior narration, this book was a perfect storm; in a good way! If you can put up with the adult material, this book is a masterfully nitty, gritty, science fiction action suspense thriller that will keep you guessing until the end.
Imagine a cyberpunk techno-thriller, like Blade Runner, along with solid procedural (homicide) elements. The author is able to blend these two aspects wonderfully in this story. The dirty world often had me wanting a shower after each listen, but I had to come back for more. I enjoyed the new and fresh futuristic technology that similar to devices of today, still have their issues and quirks. One has to love technology. There are solid and believable components surrounding the world development and the characters each had dimension and form to them. Not only did you get great human characters, there were cyborgs and even a quite likable AI with a sense of humor. When the book finished, I wanted more, but in no way did I feel cheated in what I got. The nice thing is that even though this is a series, this book can be read as a standalone novel. All of the story plots are mostly finalized with only a few open-ended aspects whetting one’s appetite for more to come. I can only imagine the possibilities and places the author will take us in future books. No real plot cliff-hangers awaiting you, just potential.
Not only was much of the story placed in the legal red-light district of Easytown, the author also took us around to see many of the more well off (and in some cases worse) locations of this world. There are the ever-watching eyes of the government via surveillance cameras placed nearly everywhere. All the while I was listening to the story, the author had me wondering who was the one they were looking for and how did they get away with the crime. A real “who done it” story wrapped in a futuristic cyber world. Not only was the world well defined, the characters themselves were as well. Early on in my listening, I discovered a number of the character’s personalities, and what was nice was that these stayed consistent as one would expect. This is not always the case with many of the books I have previously listened too. I would have liked to have had a bit more interaction between Paxton and Andy in the book, but I’m sure there will be more of that in future books. The attention to detail had me feeling like I was watching a movie while I listened. On that note, I could easily see this being made into a movie and doing well.
Even though Daniel Penz is a newer narrator, with just over thirty books on Audible at the time of this review, the book’s narration and additional extras made it feel like it was performed by a professional studio. The book was clean, crisp, and well-paced. All of the characters were unique in both voice and personality, and the narration helped that immensely. Voicing the AI, along with the many droids was done flawlessly. I also thought the addition of a few audio effects, both in voicing and sound, greatly enhanced the book without being overdone. The amount of action and suspense was not lost by the narrator as he added the necessary inflection showing he understood his material.
For parents and potential younger readers, I cannot recommend this book based on the subject matter and content. The book contains subjects involving sex, drugs, and alcohol. There are a few graphically violent scenes which I would not think appropriate for younger audiences. I will add that the author’s focus on the topic of sex is done in a professional and non-sleazy manner. The subject matter is there, but it is not salacious or over-the-top. I still would still not recommend it for younger readers.
If you are one who enjoys deep and rich science fiction with a decent mix of noir, this is a book I think you should pick up. There was action, suspense, and technology. What more could you ask from a book in this genre. I look forward to newer books in the series and hope to listen to future books by both the author and narrator.
Disclaimer: I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.