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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Audio Book Review: Steel Whispers by Hayden Trenholm

I found this to be suspenseful with social issues and an underlying force that is grievous.
Steel Whispers
by Hayden Trenholm
Narrator:     Mark F. Smith
Publisher:     Bundoran Press
Proof-listener:     Elizabeth Medeiros
Length:     11:26:55
File Size:     ~ 656 MB
Genre: Sci Fi
My Rating: 4.5 of 5.0

Steel Whispers is Book 2 of the Steele Chronicles.

Four dead Borg and counting. Serial killer, gang violence or civil war? While the Special Detection Unit hunts for answers, a terrified family searchs for their Disappeared daughter, and war between society's elites takes an even nastier turn. Borg and genetic technology is evolving exponentially and Frank Steele finds himself up against unfathomable enemies.

Franks needs to find the key that ties it all together. He's sworn to protect every citizen. It's his duty as a cop. But now it's gotten personal and Frank has to face the ultimate test - investigating the death of his own son.

This suspense mystery is set in Calgary in 2044 as society struggles from nuclear war and bio-technical changes. Advanced technology has resulted in a new ‘race’ known as “Borg.” Borg are those who have taken on artificial enchantments to the body - eyes, arms and other parts.  Some see this as appropriate and legitimate, like other life extending measures.  But others see these modifications as an abomination of natural creation.

Now there appears to be a serial killer targeting Borgs. Some might cheer this but police  Superintendent Frank Steele views it as a crime to be solved, no matter who the victims are or who the killer is. Even when the crime hits close to home as his own son is the latest victim.

The special task force discusses the possible perpetrators. It could be Borg on Borg violence, which is unexpected since the Borg tend to work harmoniously as connected units. Perhaps it is the ‘Clean Boys’, a purist supremacist group associated with The New United Party who are known for attacking Borgs.

Frank Steele is a hardened cop. He accidentally killed his own partner then lost himself in the bottle. By the time he pulled out of the dive he had lost his family and now the only life he knows is as a cop.  Frank looks to one of his good friends for help in the Borg murders.  Buzz Wannamaker was the city’s first Borg Detective and although he has retired from the force he is still active in a private detective agency.

Frank, Buzz and other associates meet with unusual leaders who could be involved or have information that will help the investigations. While they investigate the Borg killings part of the team investigates sabotage of water sources by possible Russian enemies. There are unclear alliances in the office as different officers report to Frank’s boss or share information with each other but not with Frank.

The story was a little difficult to follow as there were so many characters and it wasn’t always clear whose side they were on. But this became acceptable as it created twisted lines in the investigations that underscored the hidden problem.  There are larger forces at play in a political game that may result in a stalemated battle with criminals going free for political reasons.

Frank Steele’s stoic personality grew on me and I really liked Buzz’s Borg character. I enjoyed the racial complexities involved with the Borg society and of course the Borg characters with enhanced abilities made for intense, if brutal, action.

The story is told by Frank in first person. When I first started listening I felt that the narration was dry and unemotional. It took several chapters to get into the flow of the story at which point I determined that the dryness may have been fully intentional to convey the unemotional nature of Steele’s personality. The story, and characters, are complex and resulted in a very suspenseful story.  If you like complex mysteries with intense action you should try this audio. I will definitely be getting the first book to read or listen to.
Opening lines:
I deal with death everyday. That’s my job. I’ve learned not to let it touch me. You can’t function as a cop if you do.
Wry humor - an associate addresses Frank Steele:
“Let’s be Frank.”
A statement I really liked:
But words are like bullets.  Once fired, they can’t be put back in the gun.
Thank you to Iambik for providing the audioBook download through Audiobook Jukebox
I will add this to my New Author, ARC and Audio Challenge lists.

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