Review: ‘Til Death – Second Impressions by Jason Anspach

TilDeath2_FT_tempFINALOne of my favourite books from last year was Jason Anspach’s retro noir-ish spooky detective mystery ‘Til Death. It was a breath of fresh air, and a fun read, and now Jason’s back with a sequel.
Detective Sam Rockwell returns with his sassy fiance Amelia as they investigate more shady shenanigans, this time heading to San Francisco to track down a Return (a recently deceased ghost with unfinished business) who has outstayed it’s welcome.

As the investigation progresses, once again Sam finds himself mixed up in something far bigger than he could ever have expected, as he and Amelia are exposed to more danger than ever before.

Once again, Anspach does a commendable job of evoking the 50’s era, with wonderfully detailed descriptions and informed cultural references, as well as the snappy, movie-style banter between the various characters throughout, and the fact that it never takes itself too seriously is a big plus.

The Cold War backdrop, coupled with the vivid nostalgia balance each other nicely, and although there is the usual violence and mayhem involved with a murder mystery, and a ruthless villain to contend with, Anspach keeps proceedings as lighthearted and funny as possible, maintaining the all-important entertainment factor at all times.

Once again, M.S. Corley is on art duty, and his gorgeously retro cover is the icing on the cake.

If you haven’t checked out the original ‘Til Death, you can pick it up at a reduced price until April 29th as well as this sequel.

Witty, warm and decidedly old-school, this sequel delivers laughs and peril in equal measures with all the style and grace of an almost-forgotten era.

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Book Review: Compile:Quest by Ronel Van Tonder

compile ronelIt’s easy to become jaded with the plethora of Dystopian fiction knocking about right now. It feels like everything’s been done before, and a lot of newer authors seem reluctant to break the mould.
Enter South African author Ronel Van Tonder. Her novel Compile:Quest came across my desk recently, and having been hugely impressed with recent efforts from her fellow South Africans Lauren Beukes and Charlie Human, I was tempted to give this one a go.
Set in the distant future, Compile:Quest introduces a dystopian world where large numbers of the remaining population live in domed cities, segregated from those outside, largely controlled and manipulated by advanced technology and social media, seamlessly linking each “denizen” to each other, as well as the network owned by the mysterious SUN corporation.
When Peppermint, a denizen of the dome is called for what seems to be a routine medical exam, she is quickly ripped from her everyday life and subjected to testing in a secret facility. As she learns the reasons why, she makes a discovery that changes her life and unveils SUN’s dark plans.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the dome in a harsh wasteland where solar flares have forced survivors to live in squalor underground, Jinx, a soldier in the Rooivaik embarks on a mission to find the truth about her parents, while engaging in negotiations with another dangerous militia group.

The strength of Compile:Quest is in Van Tonder’s prolific prose, each carefully constructed set piece expertly described in impressive detail. The technological elements are both believable and practical, and the narrative is gently peppered with South African colloquialisms, giving it an authentic voice and feel throughout, without being too obvious, and although there is a glossary provided at the end, most readers should be able to figure them out by the time they reach the conclusion.

Compile:Quest’s combination of great storyline, edgy attitude and strong characterisations make for a riveting read, and will have the reader reaching straight for the next book in the series.

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