Paperback: 656 pages
Publisher: Orbit (4 Nov 2004)
This is an intense piece from a writer who has never held back from strong violence in his work. But while violence and action may be the way the story is written, its theme is that of prejudice, racism, sexism and discrimination in all forms. The protagonist - the Black Man himself - is Carl Marsalis, a bounty hunter employed to hunt down and either bring back, or if necessary kill, errant examples of the variant thirteen - a genetically regressed type of human that has been taken all the way back to the suppose pre-civilisation alpha male hunter type. And of course, who better to hunt them than one of their own. So Marsalis is, himself, a outcast and pariah from a late 21st Century world.
(Yes, this is reminiscent of Blade Runner/Do Androids ... But Morgan is telling a different story with a few of the same elements.)
So, Marsalis is 'black' in the metaphorical sense as well as being black skinned. And he's been tasked with tracking down a
Another major character is Sevgi Ertekin, NYPD. She's one generation away from Turkey, is female and Muslim, and has issues with her parental culture. How Marsalis and Ertekin interact, how prejudices are overcome or not, how some people turn out not quite what they first appear, and how death is faced bravely - these are the elements of the story. That it has a rattling good plot wrapped round this doesn't hurt at all. The book would be a good thriller without the depths beneath it, but with them, it's excellent. Morgan shows how to put across a powerful message in such a way as to strengthen a story, not to weaken it.
Not for the squeamish, but recommended .