Far-future, hardboiled good-cop/bad-cop yarn, from Denver-resident newcomer Hammond.
Nearly 800 years from now, following economic collapse, the overheated, barely habitable colony world Lagarto is an impoverished backwater. What little money remains is the byproduct of gangster activity and vice, the former an unholy but effective alliance between police chief Paul Chang and crime boss Ben Bandur, the latter earning desperately needed off-world funds by supplying whores and drugs to tourists and space miners. In the largest city, Koba, narrator detective Juno Mozambe is Chang’s oldest friend, confidante and enforcer. These days Juno’s still quick with his temper and his fists, but, because of duty-related injuries, slower, shaky and contemplating retirement. However, when an army officer is murdered outside a whorehouse, Chang asks Juno to take the case. Now, Chang and Bandur pretty much keep a lid on things, but Chang and Juno have done, and concealed, many dark deeds, and recognize Mayor Omar Samir’s anti-corruption posture immediately as a plot to topple Chang. And Juno’s partner, rookie detective Maggie Orzo, may or may not be reporting to the mayor’s office. In the steaming heat, evidence deteriorates rapidly, but the victim was murdered, it seems, by a psycho who slashed his throat and carved off his lips. What, if anything, does this have to do with the mayor’s power play? Well, when Juno and Maggie catch up with the murderer, it turns out that he’s integral to a string of mysterious abductions, of fit young people who’ve been whisked away into space—as slaves.
Gritty, tough, sweaty, with a vivid and well-thought-out backdrop, solid, brutal sleuthing, a deeply flawed but worthy hero and a sequel waiting in the wings: a powerful combination.