Gold faded to purple and then a dying red. Sunset from the butte.
In the last open natural space in the world, Virgin 'Ginny' Jackson works as a park ranger, charged with protecting the natural habitat from anyone who might wish to encroach on its borders. When she stumbles upon a murder, though, Ginny finds herself on the wrong end of official police interest. Her situation is made even more complex by the presence of a United States Marshall apparently seconded to the Rangers, a Marshall who seems to be able to see the invisible eagle that Ginny has always believed was only a delusion...
I had heard a lot about Marianne de Pierres in connection with her Parrish Plessis series and the space opera quadrology Sentients of Orion. Although I never got around to reading either of these series, the blurbs and covers had definitely put de Pierres on my radar and so when I saw that she had a new book in a new series coming out this year I decided this would be the perfect opportunity to have a read. When the book was made available on Netgalley - without needing approval to get it - I jumped at the chance and added it to this month's To Read List so that I could get through it before the release date. The setting sounded interesting, as did the mixture of future cyberpunk elements with what sounded like an urban fantasy type main character and plot.
Peacemaker takes place in an undisclosed future year, one where huge arc-like cities cover the Earth and a single open park area remains in modern-day Australia, policed and protected by a group of Park Rangers. Our main character, Ginny, is one of these, and she has a personal stake in the job - her father was one of the founders of the Park and he lost his life soon after it opened. When Ginny stumbles upon a murder within the park, then, it is in her direct interest to see that the murder does not escalate and harm the place she is charged with protecting. Things are made more complicated, though, when she is assigned to work with a US Marshall and she begins to see an invisible eagle that she has not seen since she was a girl, an eagle she has spent her adulthood convincing herself that she imagined. When the Marshall reveals that he can see it too, and that he has one of these Mythos himself, Ginny is drawn into a worldwide conspiracy.
I really wanted to like Peacemaker more than I did. The mixture of urban fantasy with a post-cyberpunk type world sounded intriguing and it is certainly a nice twist on both. However, this very setting is where the book was really let down for me. I never got the feeling of a clear-cut world around Ginny. The Park does not appear as much as would seem expected given its prominence in the blurb, while the city around it is a dull array of names of districts, none of which have a clearly defined sense of place. The level of technology was another disappointment - while we are dealing with a future far enough away from our own to have allowed for the construction and development of these huge cities that have extended so far as to leave hardly any free open spaces left, there was little other obvious technological development. Every time one of the characters uses a cellphone or a tablet, it created a dissonance for me that yanked me right out of the book. Surely, at the rate at which technology changes in the real world, by the time we reach these huge megalopolises, we would have moved beyond the same hardware we all use today. This of course may be my own personal peeve and your own mileage may vary.
On the other hand, de Pierres has created a nice cast of characters. All of them are multidimensional, affording for some strong, snappy dialogue between the main characters. Ginny herself is a good, strong female character, but there was nothing in her personality that drew me to her or allowed me to create an emotional attachment. I did not feel for her as she struggled against the various difficulties she encountered and because of that it was easy for me to disconnect from the plot and put the book down.
In terms of the plot, there were some very well done twists throughout and the way the book concluded affords a glimpse of some interesting ideas planned for future volumes. The romantic subplots were well done, believable and not in any way diverting attention from what was happening around them. However the mystery that Ginny is investigating never engaged and I found myself skimming through certain parts, waiting for the story to take off. Unfortunately, for this reader at least, it never did.
An interesting twist on the urban fantasy model that combines two genres, Peacemaker lacked a distinct setting and a captivating plot. Although the well-rounded, interesting characters made up for both of those slightly, I found it difficult to get to the end, skimming through and looking for something to catch my attention. I had high hopes for the book from everything I had heard about de Pierres up until now, but I was left disappointed. I would definitely try another book by the author in a different world, but I very much doubt I would pick up the sequel to Peacemaker. I gave Peacemaker 2.5 pistols out of 5.
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From the Blogosphere:
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Interview by fellow author Jason Fischer