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Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton
Cover Artist: Philip Straub
Review by Jon Guenther
Del Rey Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780345526663
Date: 26 December 2012 List Price $30.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

In his compelling and original style, Peter Hamilton once more treats us to an awesome novel. And a lengthy one, too, which to those familiar with his other works should come as little surprise. This standalone book is part murder mystery with all the trimmings and part paramilitary expedition that we're given some hints along the way place some historical context on the murder. What occupies the central question in Great North Road is somewhat unique: was the victim killed by a gang of humans or a monster from an alien world?

In lesser hands this concept might have bordered on the ridiculous, perhaps even humorous, but I had no difficulty taking it seriously.

Also by Peter F. Hamilton:
Confederation Universe:
* Judas Unchained
* The Dreaming Void
* The Temporal Void
* The Evolutionary Void
* The Reality Dysfunction
* The Neutronium Alchemist
* The Naked God
Other books:
Misspent Youth
The Mandel Files, Volume 1
The Mandel Files, Volume 2
Manhattan in Reverse

While I want to be careful not to drop any spoilers or give out plot details, I will say this novel was much more accessible than some of Mr. Hamilton's other works. In addition to the global settings drawn on a planetary scale, there are also many cool technologies and ideas woven throughout. Definitely enough gadgets and hardware here for even the most hardcore science fiction fans, and those who love the author's Confederation Universe series won't be disappointed on that count. The characters are many, again very typical for Hamilton, but so different and engaging they really managed to carry the slower parts.

One thing I really like about Hamilton's work in general is that he writes epic science fiction, mostly in the sub-genre of space opera, and yet he somehow manages to hold me throughout his books. While it took me awhile to read the book (the final U.S. hardback edition is slated to come in at just under 1,000 pages) I didn't drift off with Great North Road at any time. I felt some investment early on in the characters and plot arcs. However, I do have to say an irritating detractor in the story was the police investigation in Newcastle seemed somewhat bloated and didn't lend as much to the plot as I would've hoped.

I did find a payoff around that part of it toward the climax of the novel, nonetheless, and overall I was riveted by the more exciting segments involving Angela and her adventure on the alien planet in search of her monster. There was something almost oddly allegorical to me but that only made the ride fun.

Bottom line, while I think the book was a little too long for the plot in parts, I have to say I was immensely pleased with Mr. Hamilton's prowess and stamina in holding me to the end. Great North Road is exactly the kind of first-class storytelling I've come to expect from this author. It's packed with clones, massive bureaucracies, powerful high-tech corporations, and plenty of action. Very good book and one I'll remember for some time to come.

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