by Warren Hammond
Cover Artist: Chris McGrath
Review by Tom Easton
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765312747
Date: 30 September 2008 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
Lagarto is a colony world that had a thriving export business until other worlds figured out how to grow the plants on which it was based. The result was instant poverty for most of Lagarto's citizens, although those who had gotten rich before the crash were still rich. So, a few haves, hordes of have-nots, and the port, the space station, and the tourist businesses were all owned by off-worlders. Not surprisingly, organized crime was busy, and as Warren Hammond's first novel, KOP, opened, Juno Mozambe, a local cop, was collecting protection money for his boss, the chief of police. By the end of the tale, a conspiracy had killed the chief, kicked Juno out on his tail, and installed a more corrupt police administration.
Juno's not happy. He's scratching out a living as a crooked PI, trying to make enough money to buy the organs his wife needs if she is ever to leave the hospital after a failed suicide attempt. That's when his ex-partner, Maggie Orzo, asks him to help prove that a kid on death row for the brutal killing of her parents is really innocent, despite her taped confession. Before long, the two are investigating a string of nasty murders that seem to have connections to the sex tourism trade and to movies, as well as to Maggie's steroid-enhanced partner Ian and his fellow-cop goon squad, who express their displeasure at Juno's appearance by breaking his fingers.
But Juno's an old hand at playing rough. By the end of the tale, the goons aren't a problem anymore, the serial murders are done, and Maggie's on her way to clean up Lagarto's police department.
Not that all the good guys survive. Juno is a flawed knight errant, using foul means toward noble ends, but most denizens of his bleak world cannot glimpse anything beyond the foul. Hammond's mode is as noir as anything you've ever seen.
A third book in the series is in the works.