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Kop, by Warren Hammond
Genre: Science Fiction
Publisher: Tor
Published: 2008
Review Posted: 6/15/2013
Reviewer Rating:
Reader Rating: Not Rated

Kop, by Warren Hammond

Book Review by Joshua Palmatier

Have you read this book?

Kop is Warren Hammond's debut novel and I always try to support new authors when their first books appear. I bought this one at a con because it looked interesting, a little edgy and dark, even though I don't typically read SF that much.

I'm glad I did. I really liked this. As the cover suggests, it IS dark and edgy and gritty, with a ton of atmosphere and an interesting main character (who is anything but perfect) and an intriguing plot.

The basic premise is the main character, Juno, is a cop on the planet of Lagarto, which is slowly sinking into economic despair because their single export--a special kind of brandy--has been smuggled off-world and can now be produced anywhere. So there's rampant crime throughout the planet, including within the police force. In fact, Juno and his partner have taken control of Kop by making a deal with the local mob syndicate and along with them are "managing" the crime in the city of Koba.

But the world is changing and Juno and his partner don't have as firm a grip on the situation as they think. We are introduced to Juno when he's called in to investigate a murder, even though he works in vice. His partner, who now runs the police force, has asked him to look into it because there are political implications and he wants Juno, his old enforcer, to figure out how the mayor is involved. It seems the mayor is making a move to take over not only Kop, to clean it up, but the city in general. In addition, Juno is saddled with a new rookie partner, when he prefers to work alone.

As you can imagine, the homicide becomes complicated, and there's more going on than just the mayor trying to get his hands on Kop.

The book reminded me heavily of the movie Bladerunner (and in fact, the Bladerunner comparison is made by Carrie Vaughn in her blurb on the sequel to this book called Ex-Kop). The best part of the book is the world itself--a dark and gritty jungle that's hot and steamy and wet and the perfect setting for some nasty political power plays between the real politicians, the mob, and dirty cops. You can literally feel the humidity and the lizards crawling across your feet. Even though Juno is as dirty as you can get (he was an enforcer after all), he's still smart and he doesn't do anything unless he needs to, so you end up caring about him and his situation. He's had his heyday--he's not young anymore and he knows his time is coming to an end--and that's what makes him sympathetic to the reader. His wife, who has her own troubled past, simply wants him to quit the force, which he plans on doing after he solves this last case for his old partner. Even the new rookie partner is interesting in her naivete, which is completely realistic. And the plot . . . well, it gets convoluted as all good mystery plots do, but it's easy to follow and makes total sense.

The book doesn't end where you think it will end, at least not for me, although the ending is certainly satsifactory and perfect for the world and situation. A very strong debut novel and one that I'd certainly recommend for anyone who enjoyed Bladerunner. Great atmosphere and a hardcore mystery that kept me reading. In fact, I moved on to the sequel, Ex-Kop, immediately after finishing this, and I fully intend to get the third when it comes out.
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