Thursday, February 27, 2014
It can't be done to just any apartment, of course. A few wealthy people remain after finding another way to escape the realities of a city falling in on itself. They "tap in" to a sophisticated virtual reality, a place where they can balance their time between making money and playing out wild fantasies.
Some find the allure of it so fulfilling that they rarely "tap out." They hire people to take care of their bodies while their minds live out whatever reality they find most appealing. Some might even define the experience as a waking dream, except shared by anyone and everyone who taps in with you.
Shovel Ready is bleak near-future noir. It's as dark and sunburnt as it comes.
At the heart of the story is Spademan, an anti-hero who trades in his pre-atrocity profession for a much more lucrative one in a post-atrocity world. As a garbage man turned hit man, he moved from cleaning up people's trash to cleaning up other people's problems — specifically other people.
He is not without some values. He has rules. He doesn't want to know the reason. He doesn't want to deliver messages. He won't kill anyone under the age of 18. It makes everything easier because Spademan likes to think of himself as a bullet. The people who hire him call and pull the trigger.
One call. One name. One wire transfer. One quiet disposal. It isn't even very difficult for Spademan. With so many of the marks being rich men and women laying in bed, it only takes a box cutter.
It isn't until Spademan is paid to kill the daughter of a high-profile evangelist that he starts to bend the rules. He didn't mean to start bending them. He just wanted to make sure the girl was really 18.
What he finds is that she turned 18 just a few months ago, shortly after becoming pregnant. And depending on who Spademan talks to, the father could be anyone. It could be the girl's boyfriend whom she had been caught sending risqué photographs to. Or, it could be the girl's depraved father, a monster who uses the cloth to hide his dark and dirty secrets.
For the first time since his wife was killed in the initial attack, Spademan finds he has to make a choice. He can finish the job or clear his conscience. But to do either, he has to do it in a way he never intended. Spademan must navigate the wasteland that is now New York and tap into a world made almost exclusively by his adversary.
A few graphs about the Adam Sternbergh.
He wrote his debut novel in his spare time, much like he is busy writing his second Spademan novel. Although he was born in Toronto, he currently lives in Brooklyn. It's not uncommon to find highbrow thinking served up alongside lowbrow despicable. And Sternbergh likes to serve it up like that.
Shovel Ready by Adam Sternbergh Digs 7.8 On The Liquid Hip Richter Scale.
For all the choppiness at times, Shovel Ready still wins as an in-depth character study. There is no question that Sternbergh successfully gets inside Spademan's head to make him look like a real and living person. New York almost feels the same way at times too. It's all too real at times, right down to the dark humor his characters expend to make it bearable.
You can find Shovel Ready: A Novel by Adam Sternbergh on Amazon. The novel, Shovel Ready, is also available from Barnes & Noble or can be downloaded for iBooks. The audiobook is on iTunes and read by Arthur Morey, who some people will immediately recognize for his distinct voice and memorable contribution as Lem Jukes in the First Formic War series.