I’m very excited to be part of the Peacemaker Blog Tour. I loved this book! It was a refreshing change from the standard science fiction fare, and I’m so glad I had the chance to read it.
Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres
Genre: Adult science fiction
Publisher: Angry Robot
Release date: April 29 2014
Source: e-ARC from publisher via NetGalley
The nitty-gritty: A quirky mix of old west and sci-fi, a kick-ass heroine who can’t seem to stay out of trouble, and just a bit of romance, in all the right places.
Heart without the smile was a good looking guy with a great body. With the smile he became a weapon of mass destruction.
I was immediately intrigued by this book when I first saw the eye-catching cover by Joey Hi-Fi, an artist who has done many of the Angry Robot covers. And can I just say, this cover perfectly captures the tone of Peacemaker. It’s a kick-ass western/sci-fi/urban fantasy that was unlike anything else I’ve read, and I had a blast reading it. Marianne de Pierres has a compact and finely honed writing style, filled with snappy dialog reminiscent of great noir fiction. Not only is this story an awesome genre mash-up, but it takes place in Australia, which for me, added to its charm. I’m happy to say that this is only the first book in de Pierres’ new series, and I am anxiously awaiting book two.
Virgin is a park ranger who patrols and cares for Birrimun Park, one of the last sprawling natural parks around. Her father taught her to respect the land and its natural resources, and she’s taken that lesson to heart, especially after his suspicious death inside the park. But a new Marshall named Nate Sixkiller has come to town to monitor some suspected drug trafficking, and now he’s Virgin’s responsibility. When Virgin witnesses a murder in the park after dark, all hell breaks loose, and she and Nate must figure out why they’re being targeted by a group called Korax. Virgin suspects that Nate knows more than he’s telling her, and he may even know what happened to her father. When an imaginary eagle from Virgin’s past named Aquila shows up unexpectedly, she knows things are only going to get weirder. With so many mysteries to unravel, what’s a girl to do?
My favorite thing about Peacemaker was Virgin’s first person narration. She’s sassy and quick with the snarky retorts, and she doesn’t take shit from anyone. Virgin has a lover—not a boyfriend, mind you—who she spends one night a week with, a hot male stripper named Heart. I adored their relationship, mostly because I loved the way Virgin only wants Heart for sex, and nothing else. It was such a great way to turn the tables on what is usually a stereotypical male relationship scenario. Virgin is the type of woman who knows what she wants, and doesn’t let anyone stand in her way.
When Sixkiller comes into the picture—and boy, do I love his name!—I thought at first a love triangle might be brewing. And in a way, there is one, but it was skillfully done and didn’t take over the story. This is most decidedly not a romance, but it had romantic elements that felt natural and fit within the fast-paced mystery without bringing the action to a screeching halt. Sixkiller is one of those characters with lots of secrets, and it was fun watching Virgin try to figure him out.
de Pierres’ dialog is so good, I just have to share a snippet with you, like this scene between Sixkiller and Virgin’s friend Corah:
“Caro Jenae, and Marshall Nate Sixkiller,” I said by way of introduction. “Meet…um…Corah.”
“Marshall Sixkiller. What a shame…all the best men are always in law enforcement,” she said, completely ignoring Caro.
“Well I take that as a compliment, ma’am,” said Sixkiller in his broadest drawl. “And hope you don’t hold it ag’in me.”
“I’d like to hold many things ag’in you Marshall. Perhaps I could make you a list.”
The genre mash-up I mentioned earlier really makes Peacemaker stand out from the usual fare of science fiction. The story has an overall feeling of a western, what with all the pistols and gun-toting characters. But small sci-fi details remind us that we’re not in the old West, details like the invisible force field that covers Birrimun Park, and the dissolving gloves that Virgin uses in one scene.
The city itself, which lends an urban fantasy vibe to the story, is divided into small factions that employ their own methods of law enforcement, rather than rely on the government to help them. Society is slowly falling apart, and parts of the city are downright dangerous, such as Mystere, a place where you can go to get your tarot read, but if you wander too far off the main road, you’re likely to be shot for looking at someone the wrong way.
The story has many funny moments, and I found myself laughing out loud more than once. One particular running gag was perfectly done. When someone breaks into Virgin’s apartment and Sixkiller saves her by killing the intruder, the police tape outline of the murder victim almost becomes a character itself, when Virgin names it “John Flat.”
My only issue with the book is that there is a lot going on, and I lost track a few times of what the characters were doing. But there is so much to love about Peacemaker: colorful characters, references to mythology, lots of mysteries to solve and some complex relationships that leave lots of fodder for book two. Several surprises are revealed near the end, which makes me want to read the next installment even more. If you are ready for a story that stands out from the crowd with a unique feel all its own, Peacemaker is truly worth your time.
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.
You can find Peacemaker here:
About the author:
Marianne de Pierres is the author of the acclaimed Parrish Plessis, the award-winning Sentients of Orion science fiction series and the upcoming Peacemaker SF Western series. The Parrish Plessis series has been translated into eight languages and adapted into a roleplaying game. She’s also the author of a teen dark fantasy series.
Marianne is an active supporter of genre fiction and has mentored many writers. She lives in Brisbane, Australia, with her husband and three galahs. Marianne writes award-winning crime under the pseudonym Marianne Delacourt.