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Red Planet Noir by D. B. Grady
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Red Planet Noir

by D. B. Grady

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There are certain things a person can expect from a book titled "Red Planet Noir", and a Pulitzer ain't one of them. But if your ears prick up on hearing the name, then you won't be disappointed. Grady has written an entertaining diversion that lives up to its retro cover delightfully.

Michael Sheppard is a down-on-his-luck, PI, living a hardscrabble (and hard-drinking) existence on Earth after he fingers the wrong guy on a big case. A call from the colony of Mars could turn his fortunes around, however. Turns out the ruling autocrat is dead, and it wasn't suicide. Will this turn out to be a one way trip?

Honestly, I found there was little to criticise in Red Plant Noir. Grady keeps his narrative hurdling along nicely, aided by some competent prose that doesn't draw too much attention to itself, and resists marinating overlong in noir cliches (an occupational hazard with writers of these mash-ups, I've found). The "twist" isn't exactly earth-shattering but it didn't insult my intelligence and the story's other charms made up for it.

The characterisation is... adequate, even if not dripping in originality (it is a noir novel, after all). Sheppard and his fan club of thugs, mafia, femme fatales - and of course the fuzz - do play to broad types, but it feels more like a comfortable old pair of shoes than a boot you've pulled from the dam.

In some respects, the world-building is actually the strongest part of the book. Grady's vision of Mars isn't that new, but there's small flourishes here and there, little glints of originality, that lend the book's world a more interesting cast. Even the parts that aren't unique, though, do feel like homage to a generation of sixties and seventies Martian sci-fi, and I really liked that aspect.

Indeed, overall, the book has a very retro vibe to it, something akin to the pulp atmospherics of Total Recall (the *good* version, which was in itself homage). It's not a big or slow read, by any stretch, and it doesn't mistake itself for literature. A fun romp. ( )
  patrickgarson | Sep 15, 2012 |
Grady's debut novel is consistently entertaining, imaginative, and witty. Though sci-fi/crime drama isn't generally a genre I read, I found the book to be well-paced and engrossing, with atmospheric imagery and believable character development. It's also hilarious and delightfully sardonic, with a sort of self-aware campiness that makes it extremely enjoyable to read. ( )
  a_crezo | Jul 21, 2010 |
The science fiction and mystery genres are hardly strangers. Several authors notable in one genre have crossed into the other's territory from time-to-time. (Think sci-fi author Isaac Asimov's "Robot" series or sometime mystery author Sharyn McCrumb's Jay Omega books.) RED PLANET NOIR has the distinction of taking an old-fashioned 1940s-era private eye and placing him in the context of a post-apocalyptic Earth, in the city of New Orleans.

When we meet Mike Sheppard, he's answering the phone "half-drunk, half-dressed, half-asleep and half expecting it to be the phone company reminding me that the bill was past due." At first glance, he's a typical hardboiled private eye. However, as one reads further, it turns out Sheppard is much more than that. He is, in fact, a deeply wounded man. His ex-wife left him (under less-than-ideal circumstances) and he's all over the news for fingering the wrong person in a high-profile case. In short, Sheppard has plenty to feel bad about, and author D.B. Grady conveys his pain with great empathy.

So when Sofia Reed asks Sheppard to investigate her well-connected father's death on Mars, he has little to lose. But he has no idea what he's getting into, either. For as it happens, Mars is under martial law, its economy is dominated by a major corporation, and both the government and corporation have Mob connections. (It's also a "no smoking" planet, which doesn't go over well with the chain-smoking PI.) So, when Sheppard goes to Mars and starts poking around, it rubs a few people the wrong way. And this causes him major problems (ones that dwarf even his perpetual need for a smoke – a rather endearing running gag).

The story is told, for the most part, from the detective's point of view, as most PI novels are. However, Grady inserts a chapter of backstory about the history of Mars and one family in particular that's written with such a heartfelt sense of tragedy, readers may find themselves laughing at Sheppard's ongoing quips one minute and weeping at the tragedy the next. This detour from the narrative is virtually seamless and adds a vivid layer of detail to the Martian context.

For more: http://detective-fiction.suite101.com/article.cfm/review_of_red_planet_noir ( )
  infogirl2k | Dec 15, 2009 |
This review was written by the author.
I wrote this book. I learned a lot. ( )
  dwbwriter | Dec 9, 2009 |
Red Planet Noir in turn scared me and excited me. It made me cringe and wince and mutter "Oh my God" more than once as I traveled alongside Michael Sheppard, the down, but not out, Private Eye from post-apocalyptic New Orleans, hired to solve a murder on Mars. Falling into the world DB Grady created, I found it, in turn, horrifyingly believable and fantastical. The story is fast-paced and multi-faceted, and the author brings richness and depth to even the minor characters as Mike makes his way in and out of trouble on the Red Planet.

Park Mickey Spillane and part Michael Crichton, DB Grady manages to bring both the past into the future and the future back to the past in his novel with clarity and humor. The futuristic world inlaid with Mike Sheppard's old-fashioned vernacular makes reading this novel a joy.
  Daria67 | Dec 9, 2009 |
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When the phone rang, I was half-drunk, half-dressed, half-asleep, and half expecting it to be the phone company reminding me that the bill was past due.
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Book description
Michael Sheppard was the best private eye in New Orleans, and then his wife left him. After finding solace in the bottle, he finds his career in the toilet. Nights at the casino pay the bills, until they don't, and leg breakers start knocking at the door, and knocking out his teeth.

When a socialite on Mars offers him work, it's a chance for a new start. Her name is Sofia Reed and her father is dead. The coroner says suicide, but Sofia suspects foul play. A leader of the Martian police state, her father had powerful enemies, and nobody on Mars will touch the case for fear of retribution. Michael Sheppard is her only hope.

Chased by cops and gangsters, his investigation takes him from stately mansions to smoke-filled speakeasies, from deserted ice colonies to mining towns on the asteroid belt.

All he wanted was a paycheck to clear some gambling debt. Now Michael is the key figure in a murder conspiracy that’s left a vacuum in the halls of power, with the labor union, mob and military vying for control of Mars.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0964167433, Paperback)

Winner of the 2010 Indie Book Award for Science Fiction.

Michael Sheppard was the best private eye in New Orleans, and then his wife left him. He finds solace in the bottle and his career in the toilet. Nights at the casino pay the bills, until they don't, and leg breakers start knocking at the door, and knocking out his teeth.

When he's hired by a bombshell heiress to check out a murder on Mars, it's a chance for a new start. But as the case unfolds, he makes enemies of cops and gangsters alike in an investigation racing from stately mansions to smoke-filled speakeasies, from deserted ice colonies to mining towns on the asteroid belt.

All he wanted was a paycheck to clear some gambling debt. Now Michael is the key figure in a murder conspiracy that's left a vacuum in the halls of power, with the labor union, mob and military vying for control of Mars.

RED PLANET NOIR is for science fiction and hardboiled mystery fans alike. Living on Mars can be murder.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:29 -0400)

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