Disclosure: I got a copy of this book in order to read and review it. The following review is my honest opinion and is in no way influenced by the publisher or others.
Welcome to London 2039, where an omnipresent A.I. makes your life easier at every turn. So easy, that now technology has made many jobs obsolete. But even in 2039, where there is murder afoot, there will always be an alcoholic detective with a tortured past on the case. Thank goodness because those are the ones that get shit done!
“I nearly had them replace my fingernails once, you know. Retractable and color-changing so you can have them any length and style you like. I wouldn’t have to get my nails done ever again.”
“What stopped you?”
“I like getting my nails done.”
The silicon revolution left Dremmler behind, but a good detective is never obsolete.
London is quiet in 2039—thanks to the machines. People stay indoors, communicating through high-tech glasses and gorging on simulated reality while 3D printers and scuttling robots cater to their every whim. Mammoth corporations wage war for dominance in a world where human augmentation blurs the line between flesh and steel.
And at the center of it all lurks The Imagination Machine: the hyper-advanced, omnipresent AI that drives our cars, flies our planes, cooks our food, and plans our lives. Servile, patient, tireless … TIM has everything humanity requires. Everything except a soul.
Through this silicon jungle prowls Carl Dremmler, police detective—one of the few professions better suited to meat than machine. His latest case: a grisly murder seemingly perpetrated by the victim’s boyfriend. Dremmler’s boss wants a quick end to the case, but the tech-wary detective can’t help but believe the accused’s bizarre story: that his robotic arm committed the heinous crime, not him. An advanced prosthetic, controlled by a chip in his skull.
A chip controlled by TIM.
Dremmler smells blood: the seeds of a conspiracy that could burn London to ash unless he exposes the truth. His investigation pits him against desperate criminals, scheming businesswomen, deadly automatons—and the nightmares of his own past. And when Dremmler finds himself questioning even TIM’s inscrutable motives, he’s forced to stare into the blank soul of the machine.
Auxiliary is gripping, unpredictable, and bleakly atmospheric—ideal for fans of cyberpunk classics like the Blade Runner movies, Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon, William Gibson’s Neuromancer, and the Netflix original series Black Mirror.
The concept of A.I.’s and Virtual/Augmented Reality isn’t new in scifi but Richter takes it out for a new spin and makes it his own in this detective story set in the future. What I enjoyed, or what freaked me out depending how you look at it, was that I can actually see this becoming our future. Everything becoming more and more automated to the point where machines are replacing humans and taking away their very jobs: a robot delivering mail, an A.I. teaching children; it’s that idea that the artificial is seeping into every aspect of our lives that makes this rather unsettling.
In the world where we live in where people are more attached to their smart phones more than ever, the concept of the spex (a smart device worn as glasses capable of doing anything for you through the A.I.) was also spot on and I can see this happening. In this world, people becoming so attached to Virtual Reality their physical bodies die. The side of me that needs a periodic break from technology and the internet has his nerves frayed after immersing myself in a world where you are constantly connected through this A.I. that is constantly watching and learning from you. It’s described as Alexa on steroids and I found this description very funny appropriate.
The plot is your typical detective story with a familiar trope: the tortured detective with a troubled past, his past demons coming to haunt him. But I have to admit, these tropes exist for a reason and give some depth to the main character, Dremmler. It makes you kind of root for him. I mean, it is ok to root for an alcoholic with some anger/grief issues, right?
What helps move this story along is the writing which I must say was excellent. There are some great metaphors and similes (at times maybe too many) but it gives the book a polished feel only a seasoned writer can pull off.
“As it climbed to the twenty-first floor, he couldn’t help but think about boxes, about how life was little more than a series of them- home, lift, Pod, work, Pod, gym, Pod, lift, home, repeat- until you ended up in the smallest box of all, the one you would never emerge from.”
I enjoyed this book but like I said this is not my usual cup of tea so my attention might’ve wandered a bit in the middle. Dremmler goes from one scene to the other, in each one trying to piece together the mystery. Most of the time, this is a cut and dry detective story which makes me want more layers to this to give it a more personal touch. More of Dremmler’s backstory maybe?
The story takes a few twists and turns and what is a murder at first glance turns into something larger and far more sinister. The book actually reminds me of those sci-fi movies you’ve never heard of that don’t make it to theaters and when you actually watch it it’s actually pretty good. I recommend this for those looking for a good noir detective story set in the future.
Objectively, this book deserves a 4 out of 5. On a personal level, I gave this a 3 out of 5.
After this read, I’ll never look at an Alexa speaker the same way…ever again.
For a sneak peak at what kind of poem an A.I. would recite for you, head on over to my Instagram @thebooklovingpharmacist. I gave the poem 5 out of 5
Here are a few links for those interested in the book:
Author website: https://www.jon-richter.com/
For more books by this publisher, head over to https://www.tckpublishing.com/