A clash of swords, spells, and wills erupts in an upper Manhattan office building under assault by well-armed mercenaries.
A dense mythology threatens to undermine this frenetic action novel by award-winning short story writer Gonzales (The Miniature Wife, 2013), but the author just manages to wobble to the end of a novel rife with paranormal forces, violence, and revenge. Much of the exposition comes from selections from a nonfiction history of “The Regional Office,” a shadowy organization operating under the cover of an extreme-travel concierge service for wealthy clients. The firm’s equally murky mission is to protect the world from evil forces using Oracles seemingly plucked wholesale from Philip K. Dick’s "Minority Report" and homegrown female assassins who wouldn’t be out of place in The Matrix. The action of the assault centers on two women: Rose, who leads a team of traitorous operatives in attacking the venerable institution, and agency executive Sarah, who fiercely defends her office with speed, strength, and a badass mechanical arm. There’s also something of a love story buried beneath all the chaos, involving Rose’s mentor, Henry, and the woman for whom he abandons his allegiance to the Regional Office. But stripped down to its essentials, the novel is a hyperkinetic sci-fi set piece along the lines of Die Hard seeded with paranormal elements cribbed from half a dozen other franchises and the absent-parent grudges that fuel any number of teen novels. At times, the book struggles to regain its brisk pace as Gonzales plumbs flashbacks, interludes, and the conveniently parallel history of the Regional Office to flesh out characters, back story, and motives. Nevertheless, genre enthusiasts will love the spooky cyberpunk spirit at play here, and resolute readers will be rewarded with an unexpected ending that ratchets up the action long after the Regional Office has been abandoned.
A surprisingly erudite bit of sci-fi that throws in everything but the kitchen sink.