Places in the Darkness by Christopher Brookmyre

An interesting premise with certain aspects of it letting it down.

Set on a space station where humanity is building the worlds first generational ship, the story is basically a thriller/murder mystery. The space station is advertised as almost a utopia, there’s never been a murder, where everybody is happy to work to help humanity reach out and find new worlds to colonise. However the reality is far different, it is a place of work yes, but also of hedonism and debauchery, and when the first murder occurs all the truth is threatening to come out and both the private police force and the corporations running the station are trying to run damage limitation before the countries on earth find out. 

Into this premise we have our two main characters. Alice, privileged and the newly appointed representative of the Federation of National Governments, and Nikki, an ex cop working as both part of the private police force and running a protection racket for prostitutes and illegal bars and clubs. Alice is uptight, a stickler for the rules and Nikki is a jaded alcoholic constantly sleeping around. Sound familiar? 

As somebody with very little history reading thrillers or crime novels, this even seemed pretty cliched to me. I figured out what was going to happen within the first few chapters and it was a bit disappointing to realise I was correct. How we got there was interesting with some nods to consciousness and self and how we define ourselves by our memory.

The story moved fast enough after a sluggish start, but that was fine as the author had a fair bit of work to set the scene. There were a few twists of the smaller variety but the main ones were pretty obviously choreographed early on. Our characters were stereotypical but interesting and were rotated pretty much a chapter at a time and I had no problem moving from one to the other, sometimes seeing the same event from different perspectives which was nice.

However the end was just so cliched, we even had a Bond villain monologue, that it actually took away from my enjoyment of the whole book. This was heading to a four star until that end. Overall not the worst book I’ve ever read, I quite enjoyed it in places but it was let down by being far too stereotypical.

3 stars out of 5

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