Humanity is in the eye of the beholder. But for street-smart detective Amber Payne, it's the eyes that aren't human. Cybernetic implants replaced the organics she lost in the line of duty, and their appearance often causes Amber to doubt her self-worth. Rookie detective Kevin Glass is her partner. And though he may be new, Kevin's unparalleled skill as an elite cyber-surfer makes him an invaluable asset. When Alta Corp contracts the two of them to solve a case of high stakes data theft, they will need every bit of skill, experience, and determination to succeed. For the more they investigate, the more it becomes evident that this case is much more than it appears, and its resolution may forever alter the world in which they live.
©2013 Jeff Brackett (P)2013 Jeff Brackett
Brackett's Streets of Payne is a gritty and futuristic police / detective story. Detective Payne works for a contract law enforcement company along with her partner who is an ace hacker and investigates first some missing files and then a kidnapping in connection with company making computerized prosthetics. The overall mood is a cyberpunk / Bladerunner style.
The sci-fi element are mainly artificial body parts, monster AIs, and computer hacking. The pacing is excellent with a good flow of back and forth between real world action (high tech weaponry and armor) and cyberspace battles. Payne is continually being put back together and with a sequel could end up becoming a female robocop.
The narration is first rate with an excellent range of voices
Yes, it is very well written. This book blends SciFi with mystery/thriller in a way that makes the story entirely plausible while holding your attention and engaging you in the story. It keeps you on your toes by taking you to the very edge in multiple dangerous situation.
Ken has a virus placed in his head which prevents him from jacking into the web. He knows that if he interacts with the WWW, he releases the virus yet the virus, in his head, continues to try to trick him into making that connection.
Ken. Ken is a geek who is very sociable yet extremely smart.
NSA in the next 10 years.
If you like SciFi and you like thrillers, listen to this book. I hope Jeff writes another one.
I don't read a lot of cyberpunk, but that isn't because I don't like it. I do enjoy the genre, especially when they're written like Brackett wrote Streets of Payne. There's enough of the world outside of computers and enough inside the technical world to keep things technological without going over the head of someone who's semi-techno-fluent, like me. It's easy enough to follow along with the jargon, especially since there's a lot that's explained-- but many explanations came far enough after the introduction of the concept that I had a chance to guess at what it was. Inferring the meaning of a lot of these made the book semi-interactive, and it's pretty easy to guess what you're looking at, so it feels good to have it confirmed later.
Plotwise, this was a very tightly-told story. Threads stuck out from the central ball and then turned and wove back in, thickening the mess Amber and Kevin had to sort through. it was very well done and logical, perfect for the world Brackett set up. The whole thing was highly satisfying.
Sci-fi/fantasy junkie, storyteller, devourer of books, workaholic
Well, fuggle me blue! This book was everything it promised to be—and more. I was lucky enough to receive an audiobook version of Streets of Payne, narrated by Joy Nash. The only downside to this is that I have no idea how anything is spelled, so apologies in advance if I get things wrong.
In a future in which law enforcement has been privatized, street-smart Amber Payne is a detective with Securi-Tech, partnered with hacker extraordinaire Kevin Glass. The first thing people notice about her are always her eyes—or rather, the cybernetic implants that replaced her eyes, after she lost hers when street bangers attacked her.
When Amber and Kevin are hired by the powerful Alta Corp to investigate the theft of valuable data, they stumble upon something, much, much bigger than corporate espionage. They find themselves in the crosshairs of a powerful enemy, one who will stop at nothing to end them.
Where to start the gushing? This book has everything a good sci-fi adventure ought to have: intriguing characters, awesome tech, snappy dialogue, thrilling action, and even a touch of philosophy… And the street slang Amber employs is infectious. Brackett really brings his world to life.
The first thing that came to mind when I read (or rather, was listening to) this book was Gibson. And then as the book progressed, I felt shades of Philip K. Dick. Brackett seems like a natural heir to these sci-fi greats. His novel explores the possibilities of cyberspace and artificial intelligence, as well as the possible future of cosmetic surgery. In this world, people can get enhancements of all kinds—muscles, limbs, and more all have artificial counterparts that are more powerful than the real thing.
Pretty much every character in this book counts as a cyborg—part human and part machine. For Amber, it’s her cybernetic eyes. For Kevin, it’s his virtual alter-ego, K2. And then there are the street bangers and mercenaries they run into, who are so jacked up with tech, you start to wonder if they still count as human.
The plot of takes the stories on twists and turns, leading the characters in unexpected directions. I found myself more than once yelling, “What!” The mystery turns out to be far more complex than Amber anticipated, and there were times when I found myself wondering, “What is going on here?!” But the threads all come together in the end, leaving the reader with a satisfying resolution.
As a character, Amber is a familiar figure—the haunted, tough-as-nails detective who will stop at nothing to solve her case. But Brackett also brings her human side to the surface—the compassionate woman who cares about her partner and who isn’t without her faults.
Overall, this book was a very enjoyable read, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a healthy dose of sci-fi. And if you’re too busy to curl up with a book (like I am these days), the audiobook is phenomenal. Joy Nash’s narration really makes the characters and action come alive, giving each person his or her own voice.
What more can I say? If you’re a fan of Gibson, the TV show “Almost Human”, Bladerunner, or anything else by Philip K. Dick, I highly recommend you give this book a try.
My Initial Reaction…
I loved the futuristic setting of Streets of Payne, which I knew I’d love just from the synopsis. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I loved the characters and though some of the crime/mystery elements were solved a bit too easily for me, I enjoyed the flow of the story.
Joy Nash fit the characters really well and did a great job varying her voice for the different characters (including the machine voices). In fact, at one point I stopped and check to make sure it really was just one narrator because she was doing such a good job varying her voice! This was my first read with her, but I’ll be keeping my eyes open for more from Joy.
The only thing that really bothered me was the way that the recording were periodically have this futuristic chime between scenes. It bothered me because it didn’t signal anything consistently. At first I thought it signaled some sort of machine activity, but that turned out to be wrong. Then I thought it signaled a change in point of view, but that also turned out to be wrong. So if it had a purpose, other than to distract me because I wanted to know what it’s purpose was, I didn’t figure it out. I love it when audio books use sound effects well, but this was just pointless.
I grew to love the characters in Streets of Payne. I say GREW because at first we really only see things from Detective Amber Payne’s point of view and, at first, I didn’t like her. She seemed full of herself and obnoxious. But I grew to see that she actually just had a really quick temper and said things a lot of the time without thinking, which made her a flawed character and I kind of loved the way she’d stick her mouth in it all the time. And I think her quick temper and defensiveness definitely made sense. Payne lost her eyes (and yes, it’s described in detail. and yes, I cringed.) and thanks to the law enforcement agency she works for she has replacements. Since they weren’t too worried about the aesthetics, though, they are just these grey orbs. And people stare at her all the time. I can see how that would make a person a bit defensive.
It took a while before the story was told more from her partner’s (Kevin Glass) point of view, but I instantly loved him. He’s basically a hacker – one of the best in the world – and he has a great personality. He’s hilarious and I love the way he and Payne interact, with each other and with others. They fit together. For me, this book would have been better if we got to know Kevin much better and more of the story were told from his perspective. I love the scenes where he’s plugged in and doing technical warfare basically. It was so easy to understand (and I’m not at all technically informed) and yet it still managed to be really complex.
A few other characters are introduced as the story progresses, and one other point of view, but to talk about them too much would be a bit of a spoiler. So I’ll just say that I really liked all the characters. Brackett did a really good job of making even the more marginal characters vivid and likeable (or hateable, as the case may be).
Mostly, I loved the story for Streets of Payne. The futuristic world is fantastic – although I really wish I’d gotten a date (or decade) that the story took place in. Kind of a pet peeve of mine with futuristic worlds, but it didn’t really hurt in the long run. Brackett had marvelous details and great ideas – from the technology they use to the way people’s BODIES are being upgraded because of tech – they all worked really well. It was consistent and I never found myself thinking that a piece of tech didn’t make sense.
I would have liked to understand a bit more of how this world came to be. I guess this falls in with the date detail a bit. We get a glimpse when Payne goes into the Golf Course – an area that is super dangerous and basically inhabited by those who are either criminals or victims. But I would have liked a lot more background and world building to explain how things got this way. Similarly, Payne and Glass are detectives for a private law enforcement agency, because that’s the only kind that exists now. Again, this is briefly explained, but I would have liked a lot more. I think, though, that I may be a bit of a world-building glutton and my want for more could be a bit extreme.
The mysteries were both good and too simple. They were good in that I couldn’t solve them and didn’t see where things were going. I had lots of guesses, but the twists and turns kept me on my toes. But it was too simple for Payne. She figured things out too easily, IMHO. Too easy might be the wrong word though, since nothing is ever physically easy. Payne and Glass (and other, unnamed characters) engage in many very physical, very mentally demanding, and very PAINFUL fights. And, at one point, I was even brought to tears by how not easy things were.
Ultimately, Streets of Payne, was an action packed fast read and I enjoyed the characters immensely. It was a switch from my more typical reads and it has me thinking I might want to try out this genre more often.
I received this book for free from Author in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
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