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Publisher's Summary

Easytown's robotic pleasure clubs are a serial killer's playground.

The futuristic slum in eastern New Orleans is a violent place where any vice can be satisfied - for a price. As long as the taxes are paid and tourists continue to flock to the city, businesses are allowed to operate as they see fit. But a string of violent murders threatens to upset the delicate balance between pleasure and safety.

As homicide detective Zach Forrest tries to unravel the mystery and prevent the next murder, he embarks on a mind-bending investigation that will change his perception of reality forever.

©2016 Brian Parker (P)2016 Brian Parker

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Imagine a cyberpunk techno-thriller

“The Immorality Clause” is written by Brian Parker and the audiobook’s narration was performed by Daniel Penz.  Wow, let me start this review by saying that if you are at all a fan of great science fiction noir (not recommended for younger audiences) and you have not yet picked up and listened to this book, go do so now; you will not be dissatisfied.  I was not sure based on the author’s description how this book would handle some of the subject matter, but between the exceptional writing style and the superior narration, this book was a perfect storm; in a good way!  If you can put up with the adult material, this book is a masterfully nitty, gritty, science fiction action suspense thriller that will keep you guessing until the end.

Imagine a cyberpunk techno-thriller, like Blade Runner, along with solid procedural (homicide) elements.  The author is able to blend these two aspects wonderfully in this story.  The dirty world often had me wanting a shower after each listen, but I had to come back for more.  I enjoyed the new and fresh futuristic technology that similar to devices of today, still have their issues and quirks.  One has to love technology.  There are solid and believable components surrounding the world development and the characters each had dimension and form to them.  Not only did you get great human characters, there were cyborgs and even a quite likable AI with a sense of humor.  When the book finished, I wanted more, but in no way did I feel cheated in what I got.  The nice thing is that even though this is a series, this book can be read as a standalone novel.  All of the story plots are mostly finalized with only a few open-ended aspects whetting one’s appetite for more to come.  I can only imagine the possibilities and places the author will take us in future books.  No real plot cliff-hangers awaiting you, just potential.

Not only was much of the story placed in the legal red-light district of Easytown, the author also took us around to see many of the more well off (and in some cases worse) locations of this world.  There are the ever-watching eyes of the government via surveillance cameras placed nearly everywhere.  All the while I was listening to the story, the author had me wondering who was the one they were looking for and how did they get away with the crime.  A real “who done it” story wrapped in a futuristic cyber world.  Not only was the world well defined, the characters themselves were as well.  Early on in my listening, I discovered a number of the character’s personalities, and what was nice was that these stayed consistent as one would expect.  This is not always the case with many of the books I have previously listened too.  I would have liked to have had a bit more interaction between Paxton and Andy in the book, but I’m sure there will be more of that in future books.  The attention to detail had me feeling like I was watching a movie while I listened.  On that note, I could easily see this being made into a movie and doing well.

Even though Daniel Penz is a newer narrator, with just over thirty books on Audible at the time of this review, the book’s narration and additional extras made it feel like it was performed by a professional studio.  The book was clean, crisp, and well-paced.  All of the characters were unique in both voice and personality, and the narration helped that immensely.  Voicing the AI, along with the many droids was done flawlessly.  I also thought the addition of a few audio effects, both in voicing and sound, greatly enhanced the book without being overdone.  The amount of action and suspense was not lost by the narrator as he added the necessary inflection showing he understood his material.

For parents and potential younger readers, I cannot recommend this book based on the subject matter and content.  The book contains subjects involving sex, drugs, and alcohol.   There are a few graphically violent scenes which I would not think appropriate for younger audiences.  I will add that the author’s focus on the topic of sex is done in a professional and non-sleazy manner.  The subject matter is there, but it is not salacious or over-the-top.  I still would still not recommend it for younger readers.

If you are one who enjoys deep and rich science fiction with a decent mix of noir, this is a book I think you should pick up.  There was action, suspense, and technology.  What more could you ask from a book in this genre.  I look forward to newer books in the series and hope to listen to future books by both the author and narrator.

Audiobook was provided for review by the author.

Please find this complete review and many others at my review blog.

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8 of 8 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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I wish I could give this more than five stars!!

The Immorality Clause is absolutely, by far the best audiobook I have ever listened to! I listen to them during my two hour daily commute, so I get through quite a few each year. The narrator doesn't just read the story, he brings it to life! There's nothing cheesy or cringe worthy about how he does each character. He truly is an expert and brought this novel to life with his talent.

The story itself is an intriguing concept that may not be all that far-fetched. Robots taking over job that humans aren't too thrilled about performing has already begun. The plot is fast paced and the characters, especially Andi, are quite endearing. Not for the feint of heart, there is quite a bit of foul language as well as blood and gore to be found within the pages, but it's all tastefully done and adds to the story rather than detracting. This was the first book by Brian Parker that I've read, but I'm sure it won't be the last.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Awesome AI

In futuristic New Orleans, Easytown clubs are being haunted by a serial killer. But most don't care as long as the tourist still come with the money they bring. All that is but one police detective, Zack Forrest, and even an attempt on his life won't stop him. Zach is like a dog with a bone, he is not going to let go until he has it all figured out, and justice is done.

This is a very interesting book/audiobook with all the Artificial Intelligence (AI) and all the varying types and levels of AI. However, at the same time the author has them very well thought out and realistic in the story, you never once say to yourself, "yeah right", everything seems so real and plausible, and while listing to Daniel Penz narrate the book it is very easy to loose yourself in Easytown as well.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Cyberpunk meets Film Noir

I absolutely loved this book! I love the old time film noir detectives ala Sam Spade and the protagonist in this book, Zachary Forrest, reminds me of those fedora-wearing guys. I also love the original movie, "Blade Runner", and this book reminded me of that movie many, many times.

Futuristic New Orleans has a section called Easytown (probably today's French Quarter)which specializes in sex clubs populated with sex robots. When several patrons and employees are murdered in gruesome ways, Zach has to try to find out who is doing the killing. Along the way, he becomes involved with a beautiful witness named Paxton Amora. This relationship comes to haunt Zach in more ways than one!

I love the characters, including Zach's assistant, Andi, who is little like Alexa (but much more fun). The dialogue is great and I especially enjoyed Zach and Andi's interactions. Zach has a smart-assed attitude that won't quit and adds a lot to the book. I especially loved the idea of the talking toilet that gives you an automatic urine analysis every time you use it.

The narration was wonderful. Mr. Penz didn't just read this book, he portrayed every scene and you feel like you are watching a movie while listening. When the character is in pain, you can feel it in the narration.

Brian Parker has done an excellent job with this book and I look forward to reading more of his work. I will definitely recommend his writing to my friends!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Mr EPN
  • THOUSAND OAKS, CA, US
  • 01-10-17

What a good AudioBook. Great story...

Great story that keeps you wanting more. The narrator has a myriad of voices to keep the characters separated and unique. This AudioBook is very well read and written from start to finish. Well worth a go, I hear the second book in the series is coming out soon and I will make sure I listen to that as soon as it is.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Compelling and engaging Tech Noir story

Brian Parker has created a world reminiscent of Blade Runner but great on its own merits. A compelling and well constucted story that skillfully weaves the crime noir and futuristic tech genres without falling into cliches.
Daniel Penz does an excellent job of bringing the story to life in a very engaging way. Only once did i feel the character was not portrayed as it should, but was a minor part that did not take away from the story at all.

An excellent work by both Parker and Penz!

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Joshua
  • THE COLONY, TX, United States
  • 03-26-17

An amazingly engrossing cyberpunk story!

Where does The Immorality Clause rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

This is a hard question as I don't believe you can compare books across different genre's. That being said, among scifi books, This is easily one of the best!

What did you like best about this story?

The detective wasn't over the top and had very believable reactions.

Which character – as performed by Daniel Penz – was your favorite?

Definitely Zach Forrest. Mr. Penz perfectly captured the world weary view of the main protagonist.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Between the firefights and everything else there was plenty to choose from but I believe the setting itself is a vital character in any book and the beginning introduction to New Orleans was some of the best instances of building a setting I've ever seen.

Any additional comments?

Daniel Penz's voice is like smooth hot chocolate poured over walnuts.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Bladerunner in the Red Light District

This title is a bit outside my usual fare. I'm not a huge fan of noir or crime novels but it looked intriguing. Unfortunately, it turned out not to be my cup of tea. (I rated it as if it was the kind of book I would like, personal prejudices aside.)

It was a cliche in a slightly over the top kind of way. And though, that is not to my taste I'm sure many would love it. It was very tactfully written for the subject matter, neither too gory nor too timid. It was moderately well paced but I felt, at times, the clues didn't quite follow and coincidences were too pat. Otherwise, it was enjoyable.

As for the narration, it was the bright spot in this book for me. Mr. Pena sounds just like you'd expect a rough around the edges cop to sound. A likable jerk. He did a good job with the acting, this being entirely from the 1st person perspective which is a tough job. And though he did a wonderful job altering his voice to perform the voices of the robots and other characters, i felt that at times the story let him down.

If you like noir crime, I predict you will really enjoy this book. For those of us who don't, you may want to pass.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • C.T.
  • Ashland, Ky USA
  • 02-21-17

Fabulous noir fiction

Homicide Detective Zach Forrest is invited down to Easytown, a kind of Storybrook-esque slum of New Orleans, to investigate a murder in one of the sexbot establishments there. This gets him involved in a strange and dangerous mystery which involves a serial killer and a political assassination on the eve of worldwide robotic legislation. The book has a nice down-to-Earth feeling which I felt made it stronger. Zach is a Detective but even he can afford an A.I. to manage all of his affairs. New Orleans, already one of the more diverse cities in the world, now has a bunch of Arabic immigrants. The world-building is subtle rather than in your face and works better for its groundedness. It simultaneously manages to have a 1940s-esque feel in some places while also feeling like it could plausibly take place in the future.

Zach Forrest is a much nicer man than Bladerunner's Decker but he's still an individual who is deeply set in his ways and both repulsed as well as fascinated by the newest models of sexbots. Paxton is a character who exudes so much mystery the audience almost certainly thinks she's a robot herself but may well be something more complicated. The serial killer, himself, is a figure which doesn't get much in the way of development but shows himself to be clever but not quite as much as he thinks he is. The supporting cast is also interesting as we get to see New Orleans citizens from all branches of life. I also felt like the book did a good job of stretching out the investigation. As opposed to it all happening in a couple of days, the story takes place over a couple of weeks and feels more realistic. There are times when leads dry up and they just have to wait for resulted which made things feel more authentic.

In conclusion, this is an excellent work of science fiction. Brian Parker did a wonderful job of creating a seedy Noir future setting which invokes Bladerunner without copying it.

9.5/10

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Davy
  • United States
  • 10-17-18

Can you yawn some more? I think you can do more.

Good god, man. Ease up with the yawning. I was bored to death with your narration too but, you didn't hear me yawning every sentence. Also, SIT STILL! Every other sentence you would move the microphone closer to your mouth and I would have to turn my iPod down cause it would be loud right in my ear. Decaff or something for you and leave your mic alone or quit moving towards it.

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  • DanielMontgomery
  • 04-24-18

Noir SF Detective done right

A wonderful reading of an exciting novel. The flawed but human protagonist gets through his day with coffee, Egyptian food and the help from his digital assistant Andi.

The gritty details and complex world make the excellent pacing all the more evident, balancing world building and action in the right amounts and keeping me enthralled for the entire ride.

A great book and a wonderful performance by the vocal talent.