The Mutant Files: Redzone by William C Dietz

Rating 8.0/10
A welcome detour from Dietz.

In 2065 it is near thirty years since a terrorist attack has destroyed the population. The world has been separated into two different zones. The Red Zone inhabitants have been exposed to the horrid radiation that has blighted the land, while the Green Zone people are lucky enough to be normal and live the kind of lives envied by their mutant counterparts.

The story concentrates on Cassandra Lee, a Pacifica detective who is on a case that has baffled the police for a while. A cop killer, known as the Bonebreaker, is hard to pin down and when new serial murders are happening all over the place Lee starts to think that the murders might be the work of one killer rather than several, or what she fears most, that the killer has allies.

No stranger to the danger around her, Lee has enough to deal with after losing Conti and not managing to arrest a cop killer known as the Bonebreaker as he breaks the bones of his victims to intimidate the cops trying to find him. In Redzone the Bonebreaker has already killed her father, and strikes out at Deputy Chief Ross McGinty. The story begins with Lee and fellow officers attending his funeral. Lee finds the fact that the killer is picking them off one by one intimidating and she knows one day she will have to face him, the man who killed her father.

To make matters worse, Assistant Chief Sean Jenkins tells Lee he has to have her arrested. Being in a cell alone was not her ideal place to spend a night, but when Marvin Codicil arrives to free her, he tells her what he's planning to do - keep her at home until the top brass work out what to do. In the meantime, she can't leave or talk to anyone outside of Codicil. If Lee didn't know she was in trouble then, she does know. She's become famous in those parts as the detective who killed nine bank-robbers in one night and went after human traffickers in the red zone. Now she finds there is a bounty on her head for her heroism.

In Deadeye, Lee had been ordered not to investigate the Bonebreaker case, though she did as she had a vested interest in bringing the killer to justice. Lee has her supporters and as high profile, she's earned the respect of others, but others who work alongside her in the force don't see her as a godsend. Lieutenant Brianna Wolfe envies her high profile status even though she has done equally well with drug operations. To make trapping the Bonebreaker that much easier, a shadow team has been arranged to assist Lee, with her investigating while they back her up to get him. She thinks it would be a bad idea having Wolfe as the commanding officer of that team.

Meanwhile, in a crypt, the Bonebreaker plans as only a calculated madman could. He believes he has God on his side, he thinks Lee has no chance of finding him before he kills her. He is enjoying the process of planning his disguise so through the book, readers will be wondering who he is. Early on it is suspected that the Bonebreaker has taken the bait as Lee is injured once again, but gets away with a bang to the head and a visit to the hospital. Real answers can't be found, but she still investigates as best as she can with the shadow team. She still doesn't completely trust Wolfe, and for a fierce cop like Lee, there would have to be a burly, crazed killer around to try and match her wits and fighting skills, so the Bonebreaker is a perfect foe for her.

On the cover, Lee looks a lot like Halle Berry toting two powerful guns and leaning next to a cop car. The Bonebreaker case is the main story but in a nice side-story we find her visiting her mother in the ever dangerous Red Zone. This acts as a way of taking the reader's mind off of the main case for a while and sending it somewhere else more emotional, at least for Lee. Dietz is well-known for his sci-fi war novels, but this is a welcome detour from what we've been used to from him.

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