by Marianne de Pierres
(Angry Robot Books, 2014)
Peacemaker by Marianne de Pierres is a blend of paranormal fantasy, mystery, crime, western and little bit of sci-fi; it had me hooked within a couple of pages.The novel is set in the future in Australia and the world de Pierres has created is believable and detailed. The cities in Australia have merged into a megalopolis and parklands are rare. Virgin Jackson is a ranger in Birrimun Park and devoted to its preservation. The park has, however become the sole wild west theme park in the Southern Hemisphere – tourist dollars are saving Australia.At the end of her park rounds, when the park is supposed to be closed and empty, Virgin witnesses a murder. She is attacked by what appears to be a crow and the murderer escapes. This coincides with the arrival of Marshal Nate Sixkiller from the US who is ostensibly investigating drug running within the park. On the same day, after witnessing the murder, Virgin becomes the target of a hitman. You can tell already that de Pierres is setting a cracking pace, can’t you?
Virgin and Sixkiller’s investigations lead them through the seedier parts of the city. Like all cities, this one has its respectable and tourist areas along with its disreputable quarters and the grunge in these places is almost palpable. The reader gets to see the western themed section of town, and a quarter devoted to the supernatural – tarot, fortune telling etc and the areas controlled by feuding gangs, both of whom are heavily armed.
The fantasy elements of the plot revolve around different realities and the notion that creatures from myth and folklore are real. While this is a concept many fantasy readers will be familiar with, it is the blending of genres in de Pierres’ novel that makes all the difference and creates a unique world.
I don’t want to divulge any more of the plot save to say that it is intricate and there are many twists and turns.
The characterisations in Peacemaker are excellent. Each of the characters is complicated and different. Virgin is stubborn, independent, intelligent, courageous and reckless. She is a kick-arse heroine, but she is also often wrong and I loved her for her mistakes.
Peacemaker was refreshingly different and de Pierres does blend a variety of genres into a fast paced story that you will not want to put down. (I immediately started reading the sequel!)