29 June 2011

Mole Hunt

The Maximus Black Files: Book 1

by Paul Collins

Ford St Publishing. Australian, Science Fiction, Young Adult. Paperback RRP $19.95

Guest Reviewer - Di Bates

Mole Hunt is the first book in a science fiction series set in the future and in a universe far beyond earth, a place with floating cities where people can regenerate and mankind is out of control, killing and maiming at will. The protagonist – and anti-hero -- is teenager Maximus Black, who works for galactic law enforcement agency, RIM. He is a tightly-drawn, unlikeable psychopath trained to kill – and he does: he also commissions others to do his terrible bidding. Orphaned at the age of six when his parents are murdered, Black is so enraged by their deaths that he seeks to exact revenge: he plans to amass an enormous cache of Old Empire weapons as his way of controlling the galaxy. Black is extremely clever, able to cover his devious tracks as he progresses towards his goals.

There are two narrative points of view in the novel, that of Black and Anneke Longshadow, both of whom are orphans, pitted against one another. Black, a mole who has infiltrated the RIM operation, has no conscience, whereas Longshadow has. Early in the book she sets out to unearth the mole, her quest made more urgent when her adoptive father, her uncle Viktus is murdered. Conflict occurs when, in a world full of spies and secret agents, the Black and Longshadow again and again work out ways to dominate one another.

This fast-paced and bloody tale, tightly-plotted and exciting, is marketed as a young adult novel, but it is really cross-over, also ideal for adult reading. Highly recommended.

The Reading Stack reviewed Paul Collin's picture book The Glasshouse in October 2010.


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