Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres

Rating 8.5/10
A little up and down, but when it works it really shines

Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres is the first book of a new series set in a near-future Australia where the term "genre" knows no bounds. de Pierres has a strong background writing cyberpunk, and while Peacemaker has some similarities with those books, it also breaks a lot of new ground by mixing together cyberpunk with sci-fi, westerns, urban fantasy, Native American mythology, political thriller, murder mystery, and more. The result is a little up and down, but when it works it really shines.

The story follows follows Virgin Jackson, park ranger at one of the last remaining national parks in the world. Her boss has made her responsible for looking after U.S. Marshall Nate Sixkiller, but before she can pick him from the airport, Virgin witnesses a murder at the national park and becomes implicated in the investigation. With the police only interested in pinning the murder on her, Virgin rallies the support of her friends and Sixkiller to find the real murderer, but the revelations are deeper and weirder than what any of them expected.

The setting for this book is a near future Melbourne, which has become a mish-mash of typical cyberpunk settings, gang controlled slums, and that national park in the centre of it all. It's very Blade Runner, and I really dig it. I love the way de Pierres has made subtle changes to the city, with places like Mooney Valley becoming dangerous to just about everyone. Peacemaker shows that authors should use Australian cities more often in their urban fantasy / sci-fi / cyberpunk / whatever because there is so much to work with.

The characters in this book have a lot to offer, but they were a little hit or miss for me. I thought Virgin and Sixkiller really drove this story, and it felt like they were straight out of an Spaghetti Western. Virgin has one hell of an attitude, a short fuse, and refuses to respect the authority afforded to people by their position. You want her respect, you gotta earn it. Sixkiller is like your typical silent protagonist. He never says much, but when he does it's always important. He gives away nothing, and the more we spend time with him in the book, the more of an enigma he becomes. The secondary characters had their ups and downs, for example, I wasn't a big fan of the male stripper Heart (although there is a good reason for his attitude), but I was a very big fan of Caro and her elusive friend Hamish. Hopefully the abundance of characters introduced in this story get a bit more flesh in the second book.

So I really enjoyed Peacemaker. The mixing of almost a dozen genre's may seem weird, but it's not just a gimmick as de Pierres really uses this mix to craft a unique story. I'm not sure this book will be to everyone's taste, but I would definitely recommend people give it a shot.

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