A century from now, thanks to a technology allowing instantaneous travel across light-years, humanity has solved its energy shortages, cleaned up the environment, and created far-flung colony worlds. The keys to this empire belong to the powerful North family - composed of successive generations of clones. Yet these clones are not identical. For one thing, genetic errors have crept in with each generation. For another, the original three clone "brothers" have gone their separate ways, and the branches of the family are now friendly rivals more than allies.
Or maybe not so friendly. At least that's what the murder of a North clone in the English city of Newcastle suggests to Detective Sidney Hurst. Sid is a solid investigator who'd like nothing better than to hand off this hot potato of a case. The way he figures it, whether he solves the crime or not, he'll make enough enemies to ruin his career. Yet Sid's case is about to take an unexpected turn: Because the circumstances of the murder bear an uncanny resemblance to a killing that took place years ago on the planet St. Libra, where a North clone and his entire household were slaughtered in cold blood.
The convicted slayer, Angela Tramelo, has always claimed her innocence. And now it seems she may have been right. Because only the St. Libra killer could have committed the Newcastle crime. Problem is, Angela also claims that the murderer was an alien monster.
Now Sid must navigate through a Byzantine minefield of competing interests within the police department and the world's political and economic elite...all the while hunting down a brutal killer poised to strike again. And on St. Libra, Angela, newly released from prison, joins a mission to hunt down the elusive alien, only to learn that the line between hunter and hunted is a thin one.
©2012 Peter F. Hamilton (P)2013 Tantor
"It's a perfect introduction to his gifts for character design, dialogue, and sheer, big-idea-driven storytelling." (Booklist)
Two great passions - dogs and books! Sci-fi/fantasy novels are my go-to favorites, but I love good writing across all genres.
Short and to the point - a pretty great story buried under ridiculous layers of tedious police procedural, a wild array of cartoonish characters, and long winded development of meaningless plot points and inconsequential players.
If you boiled out the real plot from this giant doorstop of a book, it is exciting and suspenseful. The story starts with the investigation of a murder that expands into a threat against all humanity from a powerful and mysterious alien presence. The sections that deal with the hunt for the alien are tightly plotted and full of delicious apprehension. Unfortunately, that is only a small part of the book and those sections suffer from frequent flashbacks and cuts to the extremely slow murder investigation.
In addition to the erratic pacing and lack of editing, this book suffers from a few other disagreeable faults:
1. The central female character, Angela Tramelo, is a total caricature of a woman. Seriously, the woman is beyond beautiful, super brilliant, athletic and tough, has powerful connections, and has been genetically altered to stay young for hundreds of years. So, of course, the only way she can resolve a challenge is to prostitute herself. Note to Peter: Selling one's body is really NOT the "go-to" solution for most women especially those who have as many other resources as Angela Tramelo. Some of the men are just a hokey, but at least police detective, Sidney Hurst, is portrayed as a "regular Joe" which does help the slower police sections of the book.
2. The ending is way too neat and tidy and after this VERY long trek on The Great North Road, it wraps up so fast that it feels rushed.
3. A really threatening and incomprehensible Alien suddenly becomes just "one of the guys" at the end and loses credibility and any power he once had to frighten.
Toby Longworth is not my favorite narrator, but he is not bad. He is rather dramatic in his delivery of the narrative sections of the book which I don't usually like, but it was good for this book that often wanders far "off the road".
With some severe editing (half of this book could go) and a little reworking of the character of Angela and the Alien, this could be a great book. As it is, I don't recommend it unless you are an avid Peter F. Hamilton fan.
I've read many other Peter Hamilton novels: the Commonwealth, Void and Greg Mandel series. Loved those, but this one just didn't take. I suggest any sci fi fans who've read nothing by Peter Hamilton start with those series and in that order. Only consider 'Great North Road' after that.
At that point, my review to those folks would be that 'Great North Road' has all the elements of those previous efforts, but it was less interesting, developed, exciting and thought-provoking. In addition, it was mired in several large sections. I recommend giving it a pass.
To end on that first point though - I very much enjoy the many other novels of Peter Hamilton, and look forward to more!
This very long audible book encompasses two novels. One is a well-written and well-plotted mystery that launches the book. (Great narration, too) The police detective characters are great and the way they solve the mystery is smartly written and plotted. The other part is basic horror story: Isolated team gets picked off one by one by knife wielding monster that stalks them. Cue scary music. And why do characters go out in a blizzard by themselves to get slaughtered again and again? Be warned: How the horror story resolves itself may make you scream: WTF! I can't help but wonder if the publisher was screaming at the author: "Finish the bloody thing already."
Despite all of this, I do love what Hamilton tries to accomplish in his novels. He imagines interesting new worlds with complex people. I also don't mind the back and forth of the narrative, as he jumps back into time to give the reader background stories on the various characters. In this case, it is partly to keep the reader guessing. He hides key clues by doling out details slowly.
And, yes, I'll probably listen to another Hamilton story.
This is a wonderful, great sprawling sci-fi mystery book, and a great way to remember what you liked about Hamilton if you've been suffering from series-fatigue after some of his recent efforts. The classical elements (setting, plot, character) all come together in a delightful tangle.
Setting and characters are greatly enhanced by the skillful narration of Toby Longworth, who gets to show off his range to superb effect. The array of UK accents is exactly what the author ordered, all internally consistent and consistent with the text. Even the American accents are at least credible--unusual in a British reader. Female characters sound female, male characters sound male. It's all precisely as it should be.
I really enjoyed Hamiltons Pandora Star series. I thought the setting was fun to learn about and the characters interesting and amusing, if sometimes a little two-dimensional. This, on the other hand, featured a tedious setting/culture, and characters I could care less about.
Sorry I just could not get into this book!! I have tried Hamilton books before and I don't think he a writer for me. This was his last chance. Will not buy a Hamilton book again.
Although the narration is fantastic, the story could have used some editing. Also I found the frequent flashbacks confusing and the final payoff was so-so in my opinion. I really enjoyed several of his other novels, though.
Finished! At almost 37 hours in audio format this is a long book. About halfway through the book I asked myself "Did the author write a long book just to write a long book?" 2/3 of the way thought the book I told myself "No, the author did not just write a long book just to write a long book." It starts off as a sci fi suspense novel and builds to a space opera like conclusion. Peter F. Hamilton does a amazing job at writing epic sci fi. This book will take you will take you on a nice journey to meet a good cast of characters and take you to a really cool conclusion. Narrated by Toby Longworth, who I think does a good job. My only complaint about the book and narration is that sometimes it is hard to tell when the scene change is. A large break on a page is a good visual cue that can tell you the scene has changed perceptive. It is hard to relate that in audio. Sometimes a change in voice in an audiobook can tell you the same thing. Unfortunately the narrators range is not a great as the cast of characters.
I found the Great North Road to be entertaining and absorbing but ultimately a bit of a let-down. I've read several books by Hamilton and this is my least favorite. It is still good and you will be entertained but I didn't think the ideas presented were that original. The narration is great. If you are new to Hamilton and sci-fi in general I think you will really enjoy the story. For us older Hamilton fans, you will still like it but be prepared that it is not his best.
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